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I. St. Francis of Assisi . 
II. The Early Franciscans in Italy 

III. The Early Franciscans in England 

IV. Ignatius Loyola 

V. The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 
VI. The Jesuits in Europe 

Bibliography . 




2 3 








The Franciscan lectures in this volume were delivered 
in Salisbury Cathedral during the war ; those on the 
Jesuits at various centres of study in the diocese. 
They are now presented to a larger public, in the hope 
of deepening the interest of the average reader in the 
religious enthusiasms of the thirteenth and sixteenth 

It has long been the conviction of the writer that the 
study of ecclesiastical history in this country is pursued 
in too insular a spirit and that it would be a great 
gain to the Anglican student to investigate those 
wider movements which swept like an incoming tide 
over every part of Western Europe. 

The Franciscan and Jesuit Orders present two very 
different attitudes of mind within the Church ; the 
former tending to freedom, the latter to the exaltation 
of external authority. They both have lessons to 
teach us, but there can be little doubt which of the 
two is nearer to the spirit of Christ. St. Francis, 
the most romantic figure of the Middle Ages, presents 
a type of mind well worth the consideration of a 
democratic age. The friend of all men, free from the 
trammels of conventionality, he incarnated the spirit 
of humility and brotherly love without which all our 
doings are little worth. Loyola, on the other hand, is 
admirable in his fervent search for truth, but he 
deteriorated under the hardening impact of autocracy 


viii Preface 

and success. Determined at all costs to save a falling 
Church, he combined the narrow outlook of a mili- 
tant Churchman with the unscrupulous methods of 
Machiavellian statesmanship. Born and bred in a 
country where the Church had been for centuries 
at war with alien beliefs, his motto on all doctrinal 
issues was no compromise ; yet his morality was 
elastic in the extreme when the end to be gained 
was the acquisition of power. Had he been succeeded, 
as was his intention, by Francis Xavier, the fortunes 
of his society might have been strangely different and 
nearer to the ethos of Gospel perfection ; but in the 
hands of Lainez and Aquaviva it assumed a more 
worldly tone, with the sinister results familiar to the 
student of history. 

Dogma and organisation have dominated many 
ecclesiastical histories ; in these brief studies the 
stress has been laid elsewhere — on the Christian 
character and temper. 

My sincere thanks are due to the Very Rev. Dr. 
Burn, Dean of Salisbury, for reading through the 
lectures, and for advice and encouragement. 




On page 5 line 6, for "just," read " first " 

On page 5 line 26, for " looks," read "locks " 

On page 38 line 19, for "even," read "ever" 

On page 38 line 32, for " He," read " it " 

On page 138, line 9, for "disingenuously," read "ingenuously" 

The Early Franciscans. 

science in Roger Bacon. It was the century of great 
personalities and great movements, of St. Louis, 
Innocent III, and Frederick II, of chivalry, rising 
nationality, and of a great struggle for civic freedom. 
At no period of history was the Church more powerful, 
yet more seriously menaced by hostile forces which 
daily gathered momentum. The towns, increasing 
rapidly in wealth and independence, were violently 
anti-feudal and anti-clerical. That they possessed the 
religious spirit is proved by the cathedrals which they 
built, but they were at the same time hotbeds of 
religious and social discontent. The influence of the 

viii Preface 

and success. Determined at all costs to save a falling 
Church, he combined the narrow outlook of a mili- 
tant Churchman with the unscrupulous methods of 
Machiavellian statesmanship. Born and bred in a 
country where the Church had been for centuries 
at war with alien beliefs, his motto on all doctrinal 
issues was no compromise ; yet his morality was 
elastic in the extreme whpn +hp pnri +^ v.^ ««;rn«i 



The century of St. Francis is the most creative of the 
Middle Ages. It gave us the Gothic cathedrals of 
Northern Europe, the sculpture of Pisano, the paint- 
ing of Giotto, the poetry of Dante. It gave us Magna 
Charta, Parliamentary Institutions, and the Italian 
Republics. It witnessed the foundation of seventy 
new Universities, the culmination of scholastic theology 
in St. Thomas Aquinas, the beginnings of modern 
science in Roger Bacon. It was the century of great 
personalities and great movements, of St. Louis, 
Innocent III, and Frederick II, of chivalry, rising 
nationality, and of a great struggle for civic freedom. 
At no period of history was the Church more powerful, 
yet more seriously menaced by hostile forces which 
daily gathered momentum. The towns, increasing 
rapidly in wealth and independence, were violently 
anti-feudal and anti-clerical. That they possessed the 
religious spirit is proved by the cathedrals which they 
built, but they were at the same time hotbeds of 
religious and social discontent. The influence of the 

2 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

monasteries was mainly confined to the country ; the 
secular clergy in the towns, few in number, were 
corrupt and out of touch with the spirit of the age. 
It was customary for the Bishops alone to preach, and 
as many of these lived in baronial splendour, careless 
of their spiritual responsibilities, the Church in the 
cities was left to perish from neglect. 

Never, therefore, was there a greater need for a man 
of faith and spiritual power to direct and elevate the 
forces of a new age. 

Such a man appeared, at the beginning of the 
century, in Francis of Assisi. Inspired by the Christ 
of the Gospels, in sympathy with the poor, overflowing 
with the love of God, Nature and his fellow-men, he 
breathed a new spirit into Church and State and was 
the Saviour of his time. " European society," says 
Bishop Creighton, " was on the verge of a complete 
collapse, when Francis stepped in and saved it." 

Francis was born at Assisi in 1182. The town has 
altered little in seven centuries. Then, as now, the 
massive houses of rosy-tinted stone clambered along 
the steep sides of Monte Subasio, peering " like children 
on tiptoe " into the valley beneath. Francis was born 
during the absence of his father, a wealthy cloth mer- 
chant, in France ; from which country he derived not 
only his name, but a love of French poetry which never 
forsook him. The ballads of the Troubadours, the 
legends of King Arthur's Round Table, and the story 
of the Holy Grail were among the formative influences 
of his life. Francis learned, too, a little Latin from 
the priest of St. Giorgio, but not much else. Writing 
was an art in which he never excelled and his only 
extant autograph shows extreme awkwardness. But 
the very paucity of his education saved Francis from 

St. Francis of Assisi 3 

the pedantry of the schools, leaving unimpaired that 
perfect simplicity and spontaneity which constitute 
the chief charm of his character. 

As a child his days were spent in the sunny squares 
of Assisi. As he grew up he associated on terms of 
equality with the gentry of his native city and shared 
with them a brief imprisonment at Perugia, during a 
compaign against the nobles of that place. Up to 
the age of twenty-two Francis lived an idle and ex- 
travagant life, popular with all classes on account 
of his courtesy and high spirits, but with no aim 
beyond that of social enjoyment. Yet, though Francis 
lived carelessly, we have the testimony of his earliest 
biographer to show that he maintained " great rever- 
ence for the mysteries of life." 

In his twenty-third year a serious illness brought 
Francis to death's door. On gaining convalescence 
he made his way with the help of a stick to the hill- 
side above the town. Before him in the bright sun- 
shine stood the cloudlike hills of Umbria, below him 
the clustering farms of his native valley. But the 
beauty of Nature only increased his disquietude, 
making him realise the emptiness of a purposeless life, 
filling him with self-disgust and depression. From 
this time Francis lived more alone, taking long 
rambles among the hills and learning in a lonely cave 
the meaning and solace of prayer. At banquets he 
was sometimes so abstracted that he became a puzzle 
to his friends. Rushing out one night into the street 
these uproarious companions missed Francis. When 
they discovered him, he was holding in his hand his 
sceptre as King of Misrule, but plunged in a deep 
reverie. " What is the matter with you ? " they 
cried. " Don't you see he is thinking of taking a 

4 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

wife ? ' said one. " Yes," replied Francis smiling, 
"I am thinking of taking a wife, richer, purer and 
more beautiful than you could imagine." It was his 
first dream of Poverty, the bride whom Giotto has 
pictured as his lifelong spouse upon the walls of the 
Church of Assisi ; about whose feet are briars, blossom- 
ing into roses about her head. In the ages of chivalry 
every knight dedicated himself to the service of some 
fair lady. Francis, by a stroke of religious genius, 
chose Poverty for his fair lady and dedicated his life 
to her faithful service. 

Shortly after this time, Francis was riding on 
horseback when, at a sudden turn of the road, he came 
unexpectedly on a leper. The sight of these poor 
outcasts filled him at all times with a deep sense 
of loathing. Instinctively he turned his horse's head 
and rode off in the opposite direction. But he had 
not gone far before he began to reproach himself with 
great bitterness. To be a Knight of Christ and to 
turn his back at the first check was intolerable. Re- 
tracing his steps, therefore, he sprang from his horse, 
bestowed on the sufferer all his money, then stooped 
and kissed his hand reverently and departed. This 
schooling of himself to do what was naturally repug- 
nant to his sensitive nature proved a turning-point in 
his career, and is thus commemorated in his will : 
" See in what manner God gave it to me, Brother 
Francis, to begin to do penitence : when I lived in 
sin, it was very painful to me to see lepers, but God 
Himself led me into their midst and I remained there 
a little while. When I left them, that which had 
seemed to me bitter had become sweet and easy." 

One of the signs of the Church's decay at this time 
was the ruinous state of many of her sanctuaries. 

St. Francis of Assisi 5 

Among these the little Church of St. Damien was a 
favourite haunt of Francis. The interior was entirely 
unfurnished save for a plain stone altar and a large 
Byzantine crucifix. It was while kneeling before 
this crucifix, in dejection and bewilderment, that 
Francis just lost himself in the Divine Presence and 
felt himself encircled by the Divine Love. " Great 
and glorious God, and Thou Lord Jesus, I pray you 
shed abroad your light in the darkness of my mind. 
Be found of me, Lord, so that in all things I may act 
only in accordance with Thy holy will." " Thus," 
says Sabatier, " he prayed and was aware of a voice 
speaking to him an ineffable language. Jesus accepted 
his oblation, Jesus desired his labour, his life, his 
whole being ; and the heart of the poor solitary was 
already bathed in light and strength." 

Hard upon this inward vision followed the outward 
crisis. Francis, desiring to restore St. Damien and to 
keep a light always burning before the Crucifix, un- 
warrantably sells some of his father's goods ; and 
the poor priest refusing the money, Francis flings it 
down on a window-sill of the church. Soon after as 
he passes through the streets of Assisi with pale face 
and tattered clothes, the children call out after him, 
" Madman, madman." Bernardone, seeing his son in 
this plight and hearing of the theft, is furious, looks 
him up in his cellar and applies to the Bishop for his 
disinheritance. The Bishop advises Francis to restore 
his father's money. The young man's rejoinder was 
startling and dramatic and opens a new chapter of 
mediaeval history. After a minute's retirement he 
emerges stark naked, holding in his hand a packet 
into which he has rolled his clothes. This, with his 
father's money, he lays down at the Bishop's feet 

6 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

with these words : " Listen all of you and understand 
it well : until this time I have called Pietro Bernardone 
my father, but now I desire to serve God. This is 
why I return to him this money for which he has given 
himself so much trouble : from this time I desire to 
say nothing else than Our Father which art in heaven." 
Struck dumb with amazement, his father hastily 
gathers up his property and departs ; while the 
Bishop covers the naked body of Francis with his 

Now what is the inner meaning of this extravagant 
action ? " It would seem," says Bishop Creighton, 
" that by this strange proceeding Francis felt that 
he had at last worked his way to freedom ; but he 
knew that freedom had to be paid for. If he desired 
to detach himself from the world and rise above it, 
he knew that he must demand nothing of the world. 
Poverty therefore was of the essence of the position 
of Francis. It seemed impossible for him to express 
himself under the ordinary conditions of life ; to 
obtain that power of self-expression he must first free 
himself of the ordinary conditions of life ; and, if he 
was to do that, it must not be on his own terms. If 
he showed himself willing to give up father and mother 
and all family obligations, then he must be prepared 
to give up everything else. From all this, therefore, 
Francis became conscious that he had purchased for 
himself spiritual freedom ; the liberty to live his own 
life according to the conditions of his inner soul without 
interference on the part of society or of the world 
even in its highest forms." 

It is evident at any rate that from this time the 
mind of Francis was filled with an unspeakable joy, 
a joy which he was able to communicate to thousands 


St. Francis of Assist J 

of his fellow-creatures, a joy which thrills his century 
as with a new Evangel. Leaving the city by the 
nearest gate, Francis made his way into the forest, 
inhaling the fresh odours of the spring, and singing 
with all his might one of the songs of French 

On his return, he devoted himself to the care of 
lepers, and the restoration of ruined churches with his 
own hands. Day by day he would stand in the squares 
of Assisi, and after singing a few hymns, would ask 
the help of those present in rebuilding St. Damien, 
promising them in return his grateful prayers. Not to 
burden the poor priest who gave him hospitality, he 
begged his food from door to door. The first time he 
sat down to eat the scraps so collected, he felt an 
uncontrollable disgust ; but, remembering in Whose 
service he was now engaged and Who gives to each 
their daily bread, he overcame his repugnance. 

From St. Damien he descended the hill of Assisi to 
restore the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, com- 
monly called the Portiuncula. Here, without any 
seeking on his part, came disciples from Assisi and 
the neighbourhood. Nothing, indeed, could be more 
informal than the tie which held together the early 
Franciscans. It was simply personal devotion to Our 
Lord, and personal affection for St. Francis. When 
the need for a Rule presented itself, Francis entered 
the nearest church and, opening the Gospels three 
times out of reverence for the Blessed Trinity, read 
out three texts to his followers as their commission. 
" If thou wilt be perfect, sell all thou hast and give 
to the poor." " Take nothing for your journey." " If 
any man will come after Me, let him take up his Cross 
and follow Me." 

8 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Thomas of Celano has left us a contemporary 
description of St. Francis. " He was of middle stature, 
with an oval face, and full but low forehead, his eyes 
dark and clear, his voice soft yet keen and fiery, his 
lips modest yet subtle, his beard black but not thickly 
grown, his hands thin with long fingers ; roughly 
clothed, sleeping little, his hand ever open in charity." 

The dress of the early Franciscans did not differ 
much from that still worn by the shepherds of the 
Apennines, being of a brown shade known among 
Italians as " beast colour." Francis sent them out 
two and two, for his conception of the Gospel was the 
following of Christ in absolute literalness, the bringing 
in of men from the highways and hedges, the realisation 
of the Pauline maxim " as poor, yet making many 
rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." 
" Go," he said to these first disciples, " proclaim peace 
to men, preach repentance for the remission of sin?. 
Be patient in tribulation, watchful in prayer, strong in 
labour, moderate in speech, grave in conversation, 
thankful for benefits." Adding to each brother 
separately the injunction, " Cast thy care upon the 
Lord, and He will sustain thee." 

The freshness, informality, and ardour of these early 
days remind us vividly of the Galilaean revival thirteen 
centuries before. It was essentially the proclamation 
of the Gospel to the Poor, the practical assurance 
that the life is more than meat, and the body than 

These early disciples, twelve in number, made their 
first missionary journeys among the villages of eastern 
and central Italy. Their welcome was general^ of a 
cordial character, for they did not go as mendicants 
but worked their way from village to village, helping 

St. Francis of Assist g 

the peasants make their hay or hoe their roots, sleeping 
with the field hands in some barn, or in the porch of the 
nearest church. They showed the greatest reverence 
for all priests and churches and carried with them 
everywhere a contagious spirit of good humour and 
cheerfulness. Their lightheartedness constituted one 
of their chief charms and contributed materially to 
their rapid success. Francis had, in truth, more than a 
doctrine to preach ; he had a Life to communicate, a 
life which made the good tidings of great joy a reality 
to all those who yielded themselves to its fascination. 
When asked, in later years, how amid so many dis- 
tractions he preserved his serenity, he replied : 
" Sometimes my sins are very bitter to me, some- 
times the devil attempts to fill me with a sadness which 
leads to indifference and sleep, for my joy is a vexation 
to him and he is jealous of the blessings I receive from 
God. But when I am tempted to sadness or slothful- 
ness, I look at the cheerful air of my companion, and, 
seeing his spiritual joy, I shake off the temptation and 
the idle sorrow and am full of joy within and gaiety 

It was in the towns, where the failure of the Church 
had been most conspicuous, that the early Franciscans 
gained their greatest successes. St. Francis was a 
lover of civil and religious freedom and in complete 
sympathy with the poor. The very name which he 
chose for his followers the Brothers Minor, was the 
term applied to the poor of a city in contrast with the 
wealthy or Majores. At Assisi, he himself succeeded 
in reconciling nobles and townsmen and, in like 
manner, throughout the towns of Western Europe his 
followers preached peace and goodwill and were the 
heralds of a better time. 

io The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

The Friars came, in the first place, not as ecclesiastics 
but as men. They chose by preference the more 
squalid quarters of the towns, where they ministered 
to the sick and poor and especially to the lepers. Their 
chief house in London was in " Stinking Lane," close 
to the shambles of Newgate. " If the Gospel net," 
says Professor Brewer, " woven out of purple and 
fine linen, had hitherto rather scared than caught 
the fish it was intended to enclose, the founder of 
the mendicant orders took care that it should be 
as coarse and homespun as poverty itself could 
make it." 

The preaching of the Friars was graphic, homely 
and direct, inspired by sympathy, and commended 
by the life. At the street corners where all could 
hear, in the common tongue which all could under- 
stand, Francis pleaded the claims of the Divine 
Redeemer and His care for those who had no care 
for themselves. 

His practical instincts were directed to the human 
side of Our Lord's life and teaching ; to His fulfilment 
of social relationships, His generosity, truth and self- 
sacrifice. Nor is it a matter of surprise that the Friars, 
appalled by the immorality of the towns, dwelt with 
increasing devotion on the purity of the Virgin Mother 
and upon her sympathy with the sorrows of woman- 
hood. The celibacy of the clergy had not acted 
beneficially on the lives of the people, consequently 
the Friars laboured to restore to marriage its true 
dignity and honour. The sympathy of the Friar with 
young lovers is finely portrayed by Shakespeare in 
" Romeo and Juliet," where the Friar's love of Nature 
and knowledge of medicine is also suggested. Chaucer, 
too, though as a Wyclifite he was prejudiced against 

St. Francis of Assist n 

the Friars, speaks in his Prologue to the "Canterbury 
Tales " of their encouragement of marriage : 

" A frere ther was, a wantoun and a merye, 
A lymitour a ful solempne man. 
In alle the ordres foure is noon that can 
So moche of daliaunce and fair langage. 
He hadde i-made many a fair mariage 
Of yonge wymmen, at his owne cost. 
At yeddynges he bar utturly the prys." 

In many ways the Friars fought the deadly Manichaeism 
of their age and sought to establish the health of the 
body as well as that of the soul. We owe to them the 
mitigation if not extinction of leprosy in Western 
Europe and the direction of men's minds to medical 
science and natural philosophy. The strictest injunc- 
tions were given by St. Francis to his followers to 
qualify themselves for service in the leper hospitals ; 
and thus the scientific study of the human body 
and of the healing properties of herbs and minerals 
naturally grew out of the social ministrations of the 

We must now return to the year 1210, when Francis 
sought the Pope's permission for his lay brothers to 
preach. The sun was setting on the palace of the 
Lateran when Francis arrived in Rome and was 
ushered into the presence of Innocent III. In twelve 
years this austere prelate had raised the Papacy to the 
greatest height it ever attained and from which it was 
so soon to fall. Yet the poor man of Assisi was to 
accomplish by love what this supreme statesman was 
unable to accomplish by sagacity and the power of the 
keys, a real revival of the spiritual life throughout 
Western Christendom. 

Innocent received the Friars kindly, but his answer 

12 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

to their request was bitterly disappointing. " My 
dear children," he said, " your life appears to me too 
severe : I see indeed that your fervour is too great for 
any doubt of you to be possible ; but I ought to 
consider those who come after you, lest your mode of 
life should be beyond their strength." St. Francis, 
thus dismissed, took refuge in prayer and the following 
morning returned with a parable closing with these 
sarcastic words : " the King of kings has told me that 
He will provide for all the sons that He may have of 
me ; for if He sustains bastards, how much more 
legitimate sons ? " These pointed words were not 
without their effect on the Pope, especially when he 
found their cause warmly supported by Cardinal 
Colonna. " If we hold," said the Cardinal, " that to 
imitate Gospel perfection and make profession of it 
is an irrational and impossible innovation, are we not 
convicted of blasphemy against Christ the author of the 
Gospel ? " This unanswerable argument turned the 
scale ; authority to preach was given to the Friars, 
through Francis, who was formally recognised as their 
responsible head. 

The next few years were spent by Francis in the 
evangelisation of Italy. The following stories illustrate 
the spirit in which the work was undertaken, and help 
to explain the secret of its success. 

When asked one day by Brother Masseo why such 
crowds followed him, seeing that he was neither hand- 
some, learned, nor high-born. Francis replied : "It 
is because the Most High has not found among sinners 
any smaller man, anyone more insufficient, more sinful ; 
therefore He has chosen me to accomplish this marvel- 
lous work." 

Once, when Francis was too ill to walk, his com- 

St. Francis of Assist 13 

panion borrowed for him an ass, confiding to the 
peasant for whom it was borrowed. After leading the 
animal a little way the peasant said, " Is it true that 
you are Brother Francis of Assisi ? " and on receiving 
a reply in the affirmative, " Very well, apply yourself 
to be as good as folk say you are that they may not be 
deceived in their expectation of you, that is my 
advice." Francis immediately dismounted, prostrated 
himself before the peasant, thanking him with great 
warmth for his counsel. 

On another occasion he entered the courtyard of 
Montefeltro Castle when a fete was being held for the 
reception of a new knight. Francis at once began to 
speak, taking as his text two lines of Italian, " the 
happiness that I expect is so great that all pain is 
joyful to me." His words so moved his hearers that 
Count Orlando of Chiusi drawing Francis aside, said 
to him, " Father, I desire much to converse with you 
about the salvation of my soul." " Very willingly," 
replied Francis, " but for this morning, go, do honour 
to your friends, and after that we will converse as 
much as you please." Francis reckoned courtesy one 
of the chief characteristics of God. 

In the eyes of St. Francis, the world of his day was 
afflicted by two grievous evils, " the arrogance of 
wealth and the arrogance of academic learning." 

Yet, unlike many of the mediaeval heretics, he did not 
abuse the rich but he sprinkled ashes over his food and 
would not allow his followers even to touch money 
except in trust for the sick. If this peculiarity is to be 
regarded as a species of madness, it is, as a modern 
writer has said, " a kind of madness of which one need 
not fear the contagion." 

In the inflexible maintenance of Evangelical poverty, 

14 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Francis found no more whole-hearted supporter than 
Santa Clara, who became the founder of the Second 
Order of St. Francis known as the poor Clares. This 
young girl, moved by his exhortations in Assisi 
Cathedral, surrendered wealth and position to follow 
the Franciscan ideal and, despite severe persecution 
from her parents, was soon followed by her two 
sisters. Francis installed them at St. Damien, where 
they prayed, worked embroidery for the Church and 
nursed the sick. Clara through a long life observed 
the Franciscan rule in all its severity and, only two 
days before her death, succeeded in getting it sanc- 
tioned by a Papal Bull. When Cardinal Ugolino 
endeavoured to persuade her that it was necessary 
that she should possess certain properties, adding, " if 
it is your vows which prevent you, we will release you 
from them," Clara replied, " Holy Father, absolve me 
from my sins, but I have no desire for a dispensation 
from following Christ." No one rendered to Francis 
wiser or more loyal service than this indomitable 
woman. " In those dark hours of discouragement," 
says Sabatier, " which so often and so profoundly 
disturb the noblest souls and sterilise the grandest 
efforts, she was beside him to show him the way. 
When he doubted his mission and thought of fleeing to 
the heights of repose and solitary prayer, it was she 
who showed him the ripening harvest with no reapers 
to gather it in, men going astray with no shepherd to 
lead them, and drew him once again into the train of 
the Galilaean, into the number of those who give their 
lives a ransom for many." 

St. Francis was one of the very few Churchmen of 
the Middle Ages who desired to convert Moslems 
not by the sword, but by love and service. When 

St. Francis of Assisi 15 

expostulated with by the Cardinal Ugolino for thus 
exposing his brethren to starvation and violence, he 
replied : "Do you think that God raised up the 
brethren for the sake of this country alone ? Verily 
I say unto you, God raised them up for the awakening 
and salvation of all men and they shall win souls in the 
very midst of the infidels." In 1219 St. Francis him- 
self visited Egypt and Palestine, and preached before 
the Soldan. Jacques de Vitry, an eye-witness, thus 
alludes to his missionary labours in Egypt : " the 
master of these brothers is named Brother Francis, he 
is so lovable that he is venerated by everyone. Having 
come into our army, he has not been afraid in his zeal 
for the faith to go to that of our enemies. For days 
together he announced the word of God to the Saracens, 
but with little success." 

No failure, however, daunted the followers of 
St. Francis in their missionary labours. In Germany 
the first Friars appear to have known nothing of the 
language except the word " Ja." When asked if they 
wanted food, they replied " Ja," when asked if they 
were heretics, they again replied " Ja," with the most 
disastrous results. Many were stripped and cruelly 
beaten by the peasants. After their first failure, there- 
fore, Francis would not order any more Friars to go to 
Germany but asked if any would volunteer. There- 
upon ninety at once offered themselves, and were 
rewarded with a far larger measure of success. 

The return of St. Francis from the East marks an 
important crisis in his Order, and the beginning of the 
tragedy of his later life. During his absence property 
began to be acquired by the Friars and learning to be 
patronised. These changes, unwelcome to Francis, 
were favoured by Rome, while the persecution of some 

1 6 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

of his Friars as heretics made it imperative for him to 
obtain Apostolic credentials for his Order. 

It was at this time that Francis dreamed of the little 
black hen, who in spite of her efforts was unable to 
spread her wings over the whole of her brood. It was 
a true parable of his increasing powerlessness to control 
his widespread family. After much painful self- 
questioning, Francis sought for a Protector of the 
Order in Cardinal Ugolino, afterwards Pope Gregory IX. 
This step, though inevitable in the interests of dis- 
cipline and efficiency, marked the parting of the ways. 
It meant the end of the reign of Love and Freedom, 
the beginning of Law and the assimilation of Francis' 
ideal to that of the Papacy. The change was followed 
by a Papal Bull of Honorius III insisting on a year's 
noviciate for new members of the Order and by 
St. Francis' resignation of the post of Minister-General. 
His place was taken by Elias of Cortona, the ablest 
representative of those Franciscans who wished for 
property, learning and power. Thus Francis saw the 
rapid fading of his ideal into the light of common day, 
and his spiritual family metamorphosed into an official 

Francis was no less bitterly opposed to the inroads 
of academic study. " There are so many in our days," 
he said, " who want to seek wisdom and learning ; 
happy is he who, out of love for the Lord our God, 
makes himself ignorant and unlearned." When told 
with pride that a learned Parisian doctor had been 
received as a Franciscan, he replied : " Such doctors, 
my sons, will be the destruction of my vineyard. 
A man has no more knowledge than he works and he 
is a wise man only in the degree in which he loves God 
and his neighbour." One day, as he sat by the fire, a 

St. Francis of Assist 17 

novice requested of him leave to possess a Psalter. 
"When," replied Francis with a gleam of humour, 
" you have got a Psalter, then you'll want a Breviary 
and, when you've got a Breviary, you will sit in your 
chair as great as a lord and you will say to your brother, 
' Friar, fetch me my Breviary.' " 

It was at this time, worn by excessive labour, half 
blind and saddened by fears regarding the future of 
his flock, that Francis retired with Brother Leo to the 
hermitage of Vernia. Soothed by the quiet of Nature, 
he sought solitude in prayer and meditation, request- 
ing that he might not be disturbed by any intrusion on 
his privacy. Into the mysterious struggles of those 
days it is not possible to enter. They were the Geth- 
semane of a holy and sensitive life, of a wounded and 
suffering soul. One thing we know. The Passion of 
Christ, realised with an absorbing literalness and 
fervour, was the subject of his constant meditation. 
It was while thus employed that he received, accord- 
ing to the unanimous witness of his companions, the 
stigmata, or marks of Our Lord's Passion, in his 
hands and side. The fact is physically possible, 
and has been accepted as such by critical historians. 
" His companion, Brother Leo, who was present when 
they washed his body before burial, told me," says Fra 
Salimbene, " that he looked precisely like a man taken 
down from the cross." 

But as in Nature calm follows storm, so the mysteri- 
ous sufferings of Vernia were followed by more tranquil 
days in the life of St. Francis. All his life he had been 
in intimate sympathy with Nature. His conception of 
a redeemed world extended beyond men to the creatures. 
" He could not doubt that where God had put life He 
had also put the consciousness of Himself." This side 

1 8 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

of the saint's life, to which there is no parallel in the 
Middle Ages, is illustrated by his sermon to the birds. 
" It was on one of the happy days of his life. He 
was walking to Bevagna, when he sighted some flocks 
of birds at a little distance from the road. Turning 
aside to reach them, they flew around him, as if to bid 
him welcome to their society. ' Brother birds,' said 
he, ' you ought to love and praise your Creator very 
much. He has given you feathers for clothing, wings 
for flying and all that is needful for you. He has made 
you the noblest of His creatures, He permits you to live 
in the pure air, you have neither to sow nor reap and 
yet He takes care of you, watches over you and guides 
you.' As he closed this brief discourse, the birds 
fluttered sympathetically round him as though to 
thank him, and after stroking them, he dismissed them 
with his blessing." It was during a period of almost 
total blindness, in a house overrun by rats and mice, 
but under the care of Santa Clara, that he composed his 
famous Canticle of the Creatures. It was the profound 
expression of his gratitude for Life and Love, the out- 
come of his deep sympathy with all the creatures of 
God. " A single sunbeam," he was wont to say, " is 
enough to drive away many shadows." The story of 
the composition of an additional verse to the Canticle 
is eminently characteristic. Finding the Bishop and 
Podesta of Assisi in open feud, Francis asked them to 
meet him on the Piazza del Vescovado. On their 
arrival he caused his Canticle of the Creatures to be 
sung by two Friars with this additional verse : 

" Praised be Thou, O Lord, for those who give pardon for Thy 
And endure infirmity and tribulation : 
Blessed be those who endure in peace, 
Who will be, Most High, crowned by Thee." 

St. Francis of Assist 19 

At the conclusion of the song, the Podesta cast 
himself down at the Bishop's feet and said : " Out of 
love to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His servant 
Francis, I forgive you from my heart, and am ready 
to do your will as it may seem good to you." On this 
the Bishop embraced the Podesta and said : "On 
account of my office, I should be humble and peaceful, 
but I am by nature inclined to anger and thou must 
therefore be indulgent to me." 

With failing powers St. Francis continued from this 
time to concentrate himself " with a certain haste " 
upon the completion of his work. Whenever well 
enough he journeyed along the byways of the March 
of Ancona, preaching sometimes five times a day. 
His eyes were operated upon according to the bar- 
barous surgery of the time, but without effect. As he 
drew near Assisi he raised himself upon the stretcher 
on which he was being carried and blessed his native 
place. Arrived at Santa Maria degli Angeli, he sum- 
moned the brethren, and delivered to them his last 
Will and Testament. 

Declaring his devotion to the Church, his deep 
reverence for the Sacraments, his desire for the con- 
tinued devotion of his followers to the service of the 
sick, he charged his brethren never to ask for any 
favour from the Roman Court and ever to be true to 
their ideal of Evangelical poverty. 

Finally, he thanked God that he had himself been 
enabled to keep faith with his Lady Poverty and 
that, having been freed from every burden, he was now 
able to go to Christ. He blessed not only the brethren 
present and those absent, but all those who should 
hereafter enter the Order. " I bless them," said he, 
" as much as I can and more than I can." " He went 

20 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

to meet Death," says Thomas of Celano, "singing." 
Waking early on Friday morning, and, thinking it to 
be Thursday, he asked for the thirteenth chapter of 
the Gospel of St. John to be read to him. After 
listening to the chapter, he chanted feebly the 142nd 
Psalm ; as he reached the closing words, " Bring my 
soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy Name," he 

" to where, beyond these voices, there is peace." 

" Next to Christianity," says Renan, " the Fran- 
ciscan movement is the greatest popular work recorded 
in history." Yet how is it possible to summarise in 
a few sentences the character of the Franciscan 
Gospel ? 

It was a direct return to Christ, the Christ of the 
Gospels, the Christ of the Sermon on the Mount, the 
Christ of Calvary, with nothing altered or explained 
away. St. Francis held that " the world groaned, 
because it forgot that it had been redeemed, and 
that there was a good chance for it yet." The rich, 
overweighted with possessions, " forgot that all men 
were brothers and lost the joy of friendship." The 
learned, overweighted with knowledge, forgot that 
" the bird soars higher than the snail which drags its 
shell after it." 

Francis asserted the sufficiency of Christ, " the 
capacity of simple humanity for the higher joys of 
life," the Reality, the Inspiration and the Rest of the 
Fatherhood of God. 

St. Francis was himself the embodiment of his own 
Gospel of the " fulness of life." He proved that a man 
could literally " have nothing " and yet " possess all 
things " that were worth possessing. His life deepened 

St. Francis of Assisi 21 

the possibilities of individuality ; linked men together 
in a brotherhood of active service for the amelioration 
of the world ; turned the prose of crabbed theology 
and worldly churchmanship into the poetry of Christian 
self-sacrifice and Christian love. Francis made all 
men see in one another the lineaments of Christ and 
breathed into them the one passion of his own life, 
the desire to be like Christ. " No revolution," says 
Bishop Creighton, " no war, no Declaration of Rights, 
advanced the cause of freedom so much as did the 
life and example of Francis of Assisi." 

Nor can we forget that the richness and poetry 
of this poor man's character gave to European 
Art, Poetry and Learning the profoundest impulse. 
Francis, at one with Nature and with God, inspired 
the genius of Giotto, the poetry of Dante, the 
philanthropic science of Roger Bacon. 

Yet though we owe to Francis of Assisi a new inter- 
pretation of Christ and of Nature, it would be absurd 
to deny his limitations. Francis did not sufficiently 
emphasise the God of Providence, of Civilisation, of 
Law. He practised a too severe asceticism, depre- 
ciated the lawful claims of the body, did not make 
sufficient allowance for the manysidedness of the 
human mind. He underrated the importance of 
national life and national feeling. In condemning 
Learning, too, Francis condemned intellectual truth ; 
in casting out the demon of avarice he overlooked the 
great and generous uses to which money may be put. 
In short, he did not recognise the complexity of 
human life and civilisation. 

We cannot, therefore, say with Renan that " Francis 
was the only perfect Christian since Jesus " ; but we 
do assert this, that by his loving service of the leper, 

22 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

the outcast and the poor he brought men back from 
the worship of Mammon to the worship of God, from 
lives of active or passive selfishness to the lowliness 
of adoration and the humility of true service. 



My object in these pages is not primarily to trace the 
growth of the Franciscan Order, but to tell the story 
of the early Franciscans. It is the personal element 
which I propose to emphasise, using the expansion of 
the Order only as a broad highway upon which we may 
view the followers of Francis passing and repassing. 

When Francis died in the October of 1226, Elias of 
Cortona had been for five years his Vicar-General. 
At the celebrated Chapter of Pentecost held at the 
Portiuncula in 1221, Elias had presided. Francis sat 
humbly at his feet and, when he wished to interpolate 
a remark, plucked his Vicar by the tunic. Then Elias 
would bend down and listen, afterwards rising up and 
saying, " Brethren, thus saith Brother Francis." Yet 
upon this man, who was to play the leading part in 
the Franciscan drama for some years, the mantle of 
St. Francis had by no means fallen. He represented 
the ambitious ideals of the mediaeval ecclesiastic rather 
than the simplicity of his master. 

Elias Bombarone was born about 11 80, the son of 
a mattress-maker ; he added to his father's profession 
that of a schoolmaster at Assisi. He was a serious 
and studious youth with an eye for real greatness 
and quickly fell under the fascination of Francis. Of 
his thoroughness and capacity there was never any 


24 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

doubt ; in 12 19 he was appointed Provincial Minister 
in Syria, having two years previously headed a band of 
missionaries to the Holy Land. When Francis re- 
turned to Italy Elias accompanied him. On their 
arrival at Bologna Elias received an object lesson on 
the uncompromising narrowness of his master's aims. 
A certain Peter Stacia had founded a house of study 
for the Friars Minor in this University city. Francis 
at once ordered all the brothers to quit, even one who 
was sick and laid Peter Stacia under a curse. At 
Bologna Elias met Cardinal Ugolino, and it is certain 
that these two men, who saw of what value the Order 
might be to the Papacy if the rigours of Francis' rule 
could be mitigated, worked together with this end in 

On the death of Francis, Elias took over the manage- 
ment of everything. He arranged for his burial, his 
canonisation within two years, his memorial in the 
magnificent Church of Assisi, the translation of his 
remains to the new sanctuary. As the part he played 
in these transactions completed the rift between the 
old ideal of the Order and the new and is of importance 
in the history of mediaeval Art, we must relate it with 
some detail. 

Elias procured a glorious site for the new church 
on the brow of a hill outside the city, known as the 
Colle dell' Inferno on account of its being the burial 
place of criminals. Francis had himself chosen the 
spot as his place of interment. Appointed Master of 
the Works, Elias selected an unknown architect 
familiar with the Gothic churches of southern France, 
and pressed on the building with all speed. " Assisi 
awoke to a sense of her importance. Under the 
vigilant eye of Elias, armies of masons and labourers 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 25 

worked as unremittingly as ants at a nest, while 
processions of carts drawn by white oxen went ever 
to and fro upon the road leading to the quarries, 
bringing creamy white, rose and golden blocks of 
Subasian stone." In less than two years the Lower 
Church was completed, six years later the Upper Church, 
to which was soon added one of the most beautiful 
peals of bells to be heard in Italy. But all this labour 
was not to be procured without money, and Elias with 
unflagging zeal pressed his appeals in every direction. 
Finally he caused to be placed outside his majestic 
church a marble vase for the offerings of the faithful. 

Now this marble vase was like a match applied to a 
heap of highly inflammable material. The inner circle 
of St. Francis' personal friends, Leo his secretary, Giles 
and Bernard his first follower had from the beginning 
viewed this visible apotheosis of their master with 
violent indignation. They recalled his words bearing 
on this very matter of church building and they were 
these : " Also cause small churches to be built, they 
ought not to raise great churches for the sake of 
preaching to the people, for they will show greater 
humility by going to preach in other churches ; little 
cells and small churches will be better sermons and 
cause greater edification than many words." 

When, therefore, they saw the marble vase of 
Elias for the offerings of the faithful their indignation 
knew no bounds ; and Leo, Francis' " little lamb of 
God," gentle and unworldly but stubborn to the last 
degree of stubbornness, smashed it into a thousand 
atoms. We may imagine the wrath of Elias ; Leo 
was scourged, and expelled from Assisi, but the rift 
in the Order was now complete. 

Nor was Leo, though so gentle, without resources ; 

26 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

he could wield the pen. It was at this time that he 
wrote such part of the Speculum Perfectionis as owes 
its authorship to him ; depicting the life of St. Francis 
known to him with such intimacy and flashing forth 
his indignant scorn upon those who travesty his 
ideal of Evangelical Poverty. This manifesto and 
that known as the Sacrum Commerciiim, or mystical 
marriage of St. Francis with Poverty by Giovanni 
Parenti, created a profound impression and reaction. 
At the Chapter General of 1227 Giovanni Parenti was 
elected Minister-General, in place of Elias. 

Elias, however, was not a man to take an unex- 
pected reverse without hitting back. Probably through 
his initiative, but at the bidding of his friend Ugolino, 
now Gregory IX, Thomas of Celano was commissioned 
to write his first life of St. Francis, in which Elias is 
made to figure very impressively and to receive a 
special blessing at the hands of the founder. His 
second move was less tactful. The translation of the 
remains of St. Francis to the new church had been 
fixed to take place on May 25, when there would be a 
gathering of the annual Chapter under Giovanni 
Parenti. Elias, however, determined to anticipate 
this, and by the connivance of the secular authorities 
effected the translation to his new basilica, with great 
secrecy, three nights before. Great as was the indig- 
nation excited by this unscrupulous manoeuvre, Elias 
weathered the storm and soon after played his trump 
card. By the Papal Bull " Quo elongati," the Testa- 
ment of St. Francis himself was waived aside, as not 
binding on the brethren ; while buildings and sites of 
value were allowed to be purchased, and held in trust 
for the Order, by Papal nominees. 
This last move disheartened the party of Brother 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 27 

Leo, now known as the " Zealots " or " Spirituals," 
and caused Giovanni Parenti to resign his office. 

By a kind of coup d'etat Elias was elected in his 
place, and for the next seven years ruled with a rod 
of iron. It is not to be denied that under his rule 
the Order made rapid strides and became a power of 
the first rank. The Provinces in Europe were re- 
organised and reinforced, missions to the Moslems 
were pressed forward, Chairs of Theology were founded 
in the Universities ; Paris and Oxford especially 
becoming centres of Franciscan influence. Yet it was 
the Universities who were the ultimate causes of the 
fall of Elias. The Visitors he appointed were officious 
and exacting and, notably in England, were regarded 
as extortioners and spies, even by the moderate party. 

At the Chapter General of 1239 an d in the presence 
of Pope Gregory, the English Friars, headed by 
Aymon of Faversham, impeached Elias for extrava- 
gance and tyranny. At first the Pope was not in- 
clined to listen to Aymon, but an English Cardinal 
said, " Hear him, he is a good man and not tedious." 
Aymon declared that Elias had spent too much money 
on himself and lived delicately. If his physical in- 
firmities obliged him to ride, he need not at least be 
so choice in the trappings of his steed or in the livery 
of his servants. He had heaped up treasure not only 
for his Church but for himself. This was more than 
Elias could stand. " You lie," he shouted, and at this 
his supporters raised a great tumult. Gregory, how- 
ever, silenced him. This was not the manner in which 
an assembly of the Religious could be conducted. 
Would it not be better for Elias to put himself in the 
hands of the Pope ? This Elias refused to do ; conse- 
quently he was deposed. The Pope declared that he 

28 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

had appointed him, thinking that a man of such 
ability would be acceptable to the brethren. As he 
was not, let them elect a successor. Albert of Pisa, 
the leader of the English mission, was at once elected 
by acclamation. The brothers again breathed freely ; 
the cause of Francis and of simplicity was saved. 

The human interest of Elias is, however, so great 
that we will briefly relate his end. He speedily 
revenged himself on the Pope by siding with his 
bitterest enemy, Frederick II, to whom he rendered 
valuable diplomatic service. He was consequently 
excommunicated and expelled from the Order. Elias, 
nevertheless, refused to be unfrocked. On the death 
of the Emperor he returned to his native Cortona and, 
in a convent built by himself, passed his latter days 
among his own people. Up to the last he retained a 
true and tender affection for the memory of St. Francis 
and, when death approached, made confession of his 
delinquencies and died with the sacraments of the 
Church. He was buried in the Franciscan habit in 
1253, but a later guardian of the monastery flung his 
ashes out of the church. His memory, however, is 
immortalised by the glorious basilica of Assisi, at 
once his sincere tribute to his Master and the witness 
of that difference of the spirit which has so often 
separated men of impetuous and lofty aims, who 
once " walked in the house of God as friends." 

The church erected to the memory of St. Francis 
by Brother Elias is the earliest Gothic building in 
Italy, and it gave the first great impulse to Italian 
mediaeval art. Its walls are covered with frescoes by 
the earliest Italian painters. Here, in his youth, 
Giotto painted the Passion of Christ, and here, in the 
prime of manhood, he told the story of St. Francis 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 29 

in a series of nearly thirty frescoes. " Here," says Mr. 
Symonds, " he learned the secret of giving the sem- 
blance of flesh and blood reality to Christian thought. 
His work was a Bible, a compendium of grave divinity 
and human history, a book embracing all things 
needful for the spiritual and the civil life of man. He 
spoke to men who could not read, for whom there were 
no printed pages, but whose heart received his teaching 
through the eye. For painting was not then what it 
is now, a mere decoration of existence, but a powerful 
and efficient agent in the education of the race." 

The debt of Italian Art to Elias is immense, but his 
obstinacy brought discredit upon the Franciscan 
Order. It also discounted the official life of its founder 
by Thomas of Celano. A request was therefore put 
forward in Chapter General asking those who had 
known Francis personally to put their information at 
the disposal of the Minister. This request led in the 
first place to the " Legend of the Three Companions " 
by Brothers Leo, Rufino and Angelo ; and in the 
second place to the utilisation of this first-hand infor- 
mation by Thomas of Celano in his second life. In 
these works the Gospel of Evangelical Poverty was 
again set forth with uncompromising directness. 

If we want to understand the soul of St. Francis 
it is to Brother Leo that we must turn, for he was the 
chosen intimate of the Saint, the antithesis of Brother 
Elias. Leo occupies with regard to St. Francis much 
the same position as that which we suppose St. John 
to have occupied in relation to Our Lord. He was the 
disciple whom St. Francis loved, the companion of his 
most intimate moments, the passive mirror of his 
most spiritual ideas. Like St. John, too, he lives by 
his writings and lingered to an extreme old age, sur- 

30 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

viving his master by forty-five years. From the 
time of his retirement at Vernia, St. Francis chose Leo 
as the most " simple and pure " of his followers to 
care for and wait upon him. It was his hand which 
wrote down at Francis' dictation the Song of the 
Creatures. For Leo St. Francis wrote his only extant 
autograph, the blessing of Moses the man of God, 
signed with the Cross, in order that, after he had 
passed away, his sorrowing disciple might still possess 
some visible reminder of his tenderness and friendship. 
Thus Leo, living on into a new generation, became the 
rallying point of the " Spirituels " of the Order ; 
while he is still for us, by virtue of the Legend, and the 
Speculum Perfectionis, the faithful and true witness of 
what Francis really was. 

It is Leo who records Francis' saying in abhorrence 
of money, " Let us take heed, who have given up all, 
lest for so slight a thing we lose the Kingdom of 
Heaven." It is Leo who tells us that " he carried a 
broom to sweep out unclean churches, for the holy 
father grieved much when he saw any church not so 
clean as he wished " : and who records the answer of 
the dying Francis to Brother Elias, when the latter 
remonstrated with him for singing so incessantly to 
the scandal of passers-by : " Suffer me, brother," 
replied St. Francis with great fervour, " to rejoice 
in the Lord, both in His praises and in my infirmities, 
since by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am so united 
to my Lord that I may well rejoice in the most High." 

With Brother Leo we must associate as early com- 
panions and " Spirituels," Rufino, Angelo, Giles and 
Santa Clara. These loved to describe themselves by 
the phrase, "Nos qui cum eo fuimus," "We who were 
with him." 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 31 

The following story, in Jorgensen's words, sums up 
graphically their point of view : "An English Fran- 
ciscan who was a Doctor of Theology stood in the 
pulpit of St. Damien and gave a sermon which, with 
all its learning, seems to have been very different from 
the words which used to be heard from this place out 
of the mouth of Francis. All felt it and suddenly 
Brother Giles raised his voice and called out, ' Be still, 
Master, and I will preach ! ' The English Doctor 
stopped and Giles began ' in the heat of the spirit of 
God.' When he had had his say, the English Friar 
returned and concluded his discourse. But Clara, 
we are told, rejoiced over this more than if she had 
seen the dead brought to life again ; ' for this was 
what our most holy father Francis wanted, that a 
Doctor of Theology should have enough humility to 
be silent when a lay brother wished to speak in his 
stead.' " 

Brother Giles was certainly an uncomfortable person 
to encounter. His caustic wit was far-famed, and 
dignitaries of the Church knew what it was to wince 
under it. When Giles, for example, in his old age was 
placed before the learned Bonaventura, General of the 
Order, he asked him the following question : " Father, 
can we unlearned and ignorant men be saved ? ' 
" Certainly," replied St. Bonaventura kindly. " Can 
one who is not book-learned love God as much as one 
who is ? " asked Giles again. " An old woman," 
replied the General, "is in a condition to love God 
more than a master in theology." Then Giles went to 
the garden wall, and shouted out at the top of his voice, 
" Hear this, all of you, an old woman who has never 
learned anything and cannot read, can love God more 
than Brother Bonaventura." 

32 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

But the following instances of the sarcasm of Brother 
Giles will suffice to show the uncompromising character 
of the Zealot party. On one occasion two Cardinals 
visited Giles and asked for a place in his prayers. " It 
is surely not necessary that I should pray for you, my 
Lords," replied the Saint, " for it is evident that you 
have more faith and hope than I have ! " " How is 
that ? " asked the Cardinals. "Because," replied Giles, 
" you, who have so much of power and honour and the 
glory of this world, hope to be saved while I, who live 
so poorly and wretchedly, fear, in spite of all, that I 
shall be damned." 

It will be obvious from the foregoing that the spirit 
of humility which characterised St. Francis was in 
danger of being lost by both sections of his followers. 
That it did not cease to be operative altogether will be 
equally clear to those who study the career of John of 
Parma, seventh General of the Order. 

John of Parma was a scholar, statesman, musician, 
man of business and saint. Before becoming Minister- 
General he had occupied the highest positions in the 
Universities of Paris, Bologna and Naples. Yet 
though versatile and learned he combined the humility 
of a true Franciscan with the enthusiasm of a visionary 
and the common sense of a man of the world. Above 
all, he was a man of peace, rising above all party spirit 
and restoring to the Order the heroic temper of its 
earliest days. 

" Welcome, Father," said Giles to him, " but oh, 
you come late ! " 

John of Parma's ideal was to come into touch with 
every single member of the Family of St. Francis and 
he is said in ten years to have visited every friary and 
hermitage of the Order in Europe. Dressed like the 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 33 

poorest of his brethren, he travelled on foot from town 
to town. Admitted " for the love of God " into the 
friaries, it was often several days before it was dis- 
covered by the brethren that they were entertaining in 
their midst the General of the Order. Salimbene relates 
how, when asked by St. Louis of France to sit by the 
King's side, he refused, preferring the society of the 
poor and unnoticed at the lowest table. " Many," he 
says, " were edified thereby ; for consider that God 
hath not placed all the lights of heaven in one part 
alone but hath distributed them in divers parts and 
sundry manners for the greater beauty and utility of 
the heavens." If good wine was poured out for him 
he distributed it to the poor brethren seated beside 
him, to the great annoyance of his hosts ; and if he 
found himself more than once seated between the 
wittiest and more polished of his brethren he changed 
his place, that he might make the acquaintance of the 
dull and stupid. 

Seventy-two " Zealots " who had been exiled by his 
predecessor, he recalled ; " scattered by the wolf," 
says the chronicler, " they were gathered again by the 
shepherd and brought back to the fold." He desired 
to listen and to sympathise with all men, and, so far as 
might be possible, restore the Kingdom of God on 

Like our own Henry II, he was a man so indefatig- 
able in business as to be obliged frequently to change his 
secretaries, who would otherwise have been worn-out 
before their time. 

In 1247 he attended a Chapter at Oxford and was 
delighted with the English brothers : "Oh, that such 
a Province," he cried, " were in the middle of the 
world that it might be a pattern to all the Churches ! " 

34 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Salimbene describes him as a man " above the middle 
height, finely made in all his limbs, well knit, sound, 
able for all fatigues of the road, or the study. His 
face was that of an angel, and ever cheerful." 

Mindful of the Apostolic maxim, " if any would not 
work neither should he eat," he earned his own living 
by copying manuscripts, in addition to his multi- 
farious labours on behalf of his Order. He was em- 
ployed by Innocent IV on a mission of reconciliation 
with the Greek Church, but, although he made a most 
favourable impression, he was unable to heal the 
wound of so many centuries. 

His beneficent rule was, however, brought pre- 
maturely to a close. The writings of Joachim of Flora, 
the Calabiian mystic, who held that the ages of the 
Father and the Son were now passing into the age of 
the Spirit, had been set forth in a mutilated and 
heretical form at Paris, by an injudicious Franciscan, 
under the title of " The Everlasting Gospel." The 
University of Paris, always jealous of the Friars, 
obtained the condemnation of the book, and the 
imprisonment of its author. John of Parma was a 
friend of the writer and was, moreover, known to be 
in sympathy with the Joachimite mysticism ; he was 
therefore denounced to the Pope who suggested his 
resignation. Unlike Elias, John immediately resigned. 
He lived, however, for forty years longer at Greccio, 
in a retired hermitage, the friend of all men, the 
counsellor of all in trouble and perplexity until, in his 
eightieth year, on his way to Greece upon a Papal 
mission, he died. " Zeal for God," says Ubertino, 
"had eaten away all thought of self in John of Parma." 

With characteristic magnanimity John nominated 
as his successor St. Bonaventura, at once his friend 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 35 

and opponent. Bonaventura was a man of peace, and 
with his immense prestige as a saint and scholar was 
well calculated to compose the differences of the Order. 
A true Franciscan in the simplicity of his life, his love 
of learning tended to link him with the more pro- 
gressive and liberal section of the Order. Tall of 
stature, handsome in feature, gracious and gentle in 
manner, he was essentially a popular and sympathetic 
personality. As General, he followed the via media. 
The chief counts against him are that he deprived 
Roger Bacon of his books and forbade him to lecture 
and that he wrote a life of St. Francis in which he 
toned down the vagaries of the saint, robbing him in 
the process of his daring originality. Yet this com- 
position was received with such favour by the second 
generation of Franciscans that a Chapter-General 
ordered all previous lives of the saint to be destroyed. 
It is the only life of St. Francis with which Dante 
seems to have been acquainted. 

St. Bonayentura, known as the " Seraphic Doctor," 
occupies a high place among the mediaeval schoolmen, 
those ponderous theologians who begin with St. 
Anselm in the eleventh century, and end with Wyclif 
in the fourteenth. These men tried to " unify the 
Christian consciousness " and to build up the Christian 
faith into an encyclopedic philosophy of life. To scoff 
at their labours is equally easy and superficial. They 
worked out the pure laws of thought, and endeavoured 
to justify the truths of revealed religion to the reason. 
Their logic was unanswerable. Once grant their 
premisses and their conclusion follows inevitably. But 
instead of confining their arguments to the funda- 
mental doctrines of Christianity, they took for granted 
the whole theological system of the mediaeval Church. 

36 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

The excessive deference, too, paid by the schoolmen 
to logic diverted their minds from the consideration 
due to the fact of human experience. 

St. Bonaventura did something to remedy this defect 
and to make theology less a matter of pure dialectics, 
more a matter of devotion and personal experience. 
With him, the way to God is the way of the Mystic, by 
purification, illumination and perfection. He main- 
tained the primacy of willing over knowing and held 
that man attained to Divine knowledge through 
prayer, contemplation, virtue and love. " The first 
necessity of the spiritual life," he said, " is to feel 
highly, devoutly and holily about God." " If," says 
a recent American writer, " the philosophy of Bona- 
ventura has little pragmatic value for us, it had a great 
deal for him and enabled him to walk through difficult 
places and to keep himself unspotted from the world." 

We will now turn to an entirely different phase of the 
Franciscan movement, its religious poetry. St. Francis 
was instinctively a poet by virtue of his love of God 
and Nature. " What else," he said, " are the servants 
of God than His singers whose duty it is to lift up the 
hearts of men and move them to spiritual joy ? " He 
turned with especial delight to all that was glad and 
joyous and beautiful in his surroundings, to the jocund 
fire, the pure running water, to birds and flowers. 
Renan calls his Canticle of the Creatures " the finest 
religious poem since the Gospels." Dean Milman says 
of him : " His ordinary speech was more poetical than 
poetry, and when dying he said with exquisite sim- 
plicity, ' welcome, Sister Death.' " 

But not only was Francis a poet, he awoke the poetic 
fire in his disciples. The two noblest hymns of the 
Middle Ages are both by Franciscans, the "Dies Irae" 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 37 

by Thomas of Celano, the " Stabat Mater " of Jacopone 
da Todi. 

When Sir Walter Scott lay dying at Abbotsford 
in 1832, " we very often heard," says Lockhart, 
" the cadence of the ' Dies Irae ' ; and I think the 
very last stanza that we could make out was the first 
of a still greater favourite, 

' Stabat mater dolorosa 
Juxta crucem lachrymosa 
Dum pendebat filius.' " 

Even in English, how haunting is the melody, and how 
profound the appeal to the heart, of these moving 
stanzas ! 

" Who on Christ's dear Mother gazing, 
Pierced by anguish so amazing, 

Born of woman, would not weep ? 
Who on Christ's dear Mother thinking, 
Such a cup of sorrow drinking, 

Would not share her sorrows deep ? 
Jesu, may her deep devotion 
Stir in me the same emotion, 

Fount of love, Redeemer kind, 
That my heart fresh ardour gaining, 
And a purer love attaining, 

May with Thee acceptance find." 

The amazing story of Jacopone da Todi, the reputed 
author of these very human stanzas and the greatest 
of Franciscan poets, is briefly as follows. 

Jacopone was a lawyer and lived at Bologna, where 
was the greatest school of jurisprudence in mediaeval 
times. His youth was wild and extravagant and his 
gambling habits kept him always short of money. He 
married Vanna, a lady of noble birth, whom he truly 
loved but who also brought him a large dowry. One 

38 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

day decked out in her finest clothes, in which her 
husband took the greatest pleasure, she went to a great 
fete at Todi, and sat with others on a high raised 
platform. Suddenly it collapsed. When the body of 
Vanna was extricated, she was still breathing, and was 
found to be wearing under her gay clothing a hair shirt, 
from the knowledge of which she had always kept her 
husband. Soon after she died, and her loss unhinged 
the mind of Jacopone, while at the same time it opened 
his heart to the spiritual meaning of the world. He at 
once distributed all his goods to the poor and, in a 
hermit's frock, wandered from place to place. Now 
one of the secrets which Francis had discovered 
about human nature was this, that its weakest 
point lies in its fear of ridicule. Man is so proud 
that he cannot bear to be laughed at. Therefore, 
if he wishes to be saved, he must become literally a 
fool for Christ's sake. No one, even Brother Juniper, 
even exemplified this Franciscan principle more 
thoroughly than Jacopone. Lady Folly was to him 
the surest and safest guide to real wisdom. For 
example, when a wedding was about to take place in 
the family, his brother wrote inviting him, but begging 
him with some trepidation to be on his best behaviour. 
Jacopone 's reply was to appear at the dance, " tarred 
and feathered from top to toe ! " the childishness of 
the Franciscan temperament reaches its climax in 
this nonsensical performance. 

Yet this religious fanatic was also a citizen of the 
world, capable of forming the shrewdest judgments of 
men, adored by the common people and the creator of 
the purest vernacular poetry of the age. He was ten 
years before he judged himself worthy of joining the 
Franciscan Order and in the meantime lived the life of 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 39 

a spiritual vagabond, singing the praises of God, 
Nature and Poverty. 

" God does not lodge in narrow heart, 
Love claims the whole and spurns the part, 
Greathearted one, where'er thou art, 
Thou shelterest Deity." 

As years passed over his head, however, Jacopone 
feared that his soul was suffering from want of discipline 
and joined the Order of St. Francis, excelling even the 
" Zealots " in self-denial and austerity. 

His contempt for learning and for all selfish views of 
salvation is uncompromisingly set forth in the following 
stanzas : — 

" Plato and Socrates may contend 
And all the breath in their bodies spend, 
Arguing without an end ; 

What's it all to me ? 
Only a pure and simple mind 
Straight to heaven its way doth find ; 
Greets the King — while far behind 

Lags the world's philosophy. 
Lord of my heart, give me to know 
Thy will and how to do it, show. 
That done, what care I, whether or no, 

Damned or saved I be." 

We owe to Jacopone exquisite pictures of Nature 
thoroughly Franciscan in their freshness, purity and 
joyousness ; and charming carols of the Nativity 
conceived less as a past event than as a present joy. 

" The little angels join their hands 
And dance in holy ring. 
Love songs they're whispering, 
The little angel bands. 

Good men and bad they call and greet : 

High Glory doffs its crown, 

And has come down, 

Low lies there at your feet. 

40 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Now, shamefaced boors, why keep 
Ye back ? Show courtesie. 
Hasten and ye will see 
The little Jesus sleep. 

The earth and all the skiey space 
Break into flowery smiles. 
So draws and so beguiles 
The sweetness of His face." 

Jacopone has also left us severely mystical poems 
descriptive of the merging of the human soul in God. 
Fra Angelico's pictures of the Saints dancing in the 
green meadows of Paradise are anticipated in his 
poems, which sometimes soar to an audacity of freedom 
nigh to blasphemy. 

But the real significance of Jacopone lies in his 
intense sympathy with the " spirituels " of his Order, 
his democratic fervour, his detestation of worldliness 
and tyranny. When that grasping Pontiff Boniface 
VIII, after causing the deposition of his predecessor the 
saintly Celestine, ascended the Papal throne, Jacopone 
assailed him with vigorous lampoons and accurately 
forecasted the character and termination of his rule. 
" He has entered the fold as a fox, he will reign like a 
lion and go out like a dog." Boniface naturally 
retaliated by bestowing on the poet a term of severe 
imprisonment and feeding him with the bread of 
affliction. All this Jacopone endured manfully, only 
pleading for the Pope's absolution, which was per- 
sistently refused. After the tragic overthrow of 
Boniface at Anagni in 1303, Jacopone now in his 
seventy-eighth year was released. 

Three years later he was taken ill. On Christmas Eve 
the brethren wished to give him the last sacraments, 
but he said, " I will wait, perad venture my friend John 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 41 

of Alverna will come." " John will not come," they 
said. Nevertheless, Jacopone waited, beguiling the 
time with canticles and songs. Hardly had he con- 
cluded when his friend arrived. 

" The joy of meeting," says his biographer, " was 
surpassing great. John gave him the sacraments. The 
dying man sang once more a song of love and triumph 
and his spirit passed. It was believed by those stand- 
ing near that he died not so much conquered by his 
malady, though that was grave, as from an extra- 
ordinary excess of love." " I weep," he once said, 
" because Love is not loved." Francis had no more 
thoroughgoing disciple. 

The last of the early Franciscans whom it is our 
purpose to describe here is Fra Salimbene, one of the 
most vivacious and brilliant chroniclers of the Middle 

Salimbene, who was of good family, was born at 
Parma in 1221. At the age of sixteen he witnessed a 
sensational religious revival in what was known as the 
year of Alleluia. Religious processions of all classes 
swept through the towns and villages of Italy carrying 
banners, branches of trees and lighted candles. There 
was preaching in the streets and squares morning, 
noon and night, conversions, much excitement, and, 
no doubt, varied moral results. But to the youthful 
Salimbene it seemed altogether a coming of the King- 
dom of God upon earth. " Men lifted their hands," he 
says, " to God, to praise and bless Him for ever. Nor 
could they cease, so drunk were they with love divine. 
There was no wrath among them, or disquiet, or 
rancour. Everything was peaceful and benign. I saw 
it with my eyes." 

The year following Salimbene joined the Franciscans 


42 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

and was received by Brother Elias. His parents, 
however, were furious and moved heaven and earth to 
get him back. They even applied to the Emperor for 
assistance, with the result that the father was per- 
mitted to visit his son, to try to win him back. " Lord 
Guido," said the Minister-General, " We sympathise 
with your distress. Behold, here is your son, he is old 
enough, let him speak for himself. Ask him, if he 
wishes to go with you, let him in God's name ; if not, 
we cannot force him." But Salimbene was firm. 
When his father asked him whether he was willing to 
accompany him or not, he replied : " No, because 
the Lord says, ' No one putting his hand to the plough 
and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.' " 
Beside himself with anger, his father demanded to see 
him alone, and the request was granted. " Then my 
father said to me, ' Dear son, don't believe those filthy 
tunics who have deceived you, but come with me, and 
I will give you all I have.' " His son, however, 
proving obstinate, his father took leave of him with 
these words : "I give thee to a thousand devils, cursed 
son, thee and thy brother here who has deceived thee. 
My curse be on you for ever and may it commend you 
to the spirits of hell." Salimbene, nevertheless, re- 
mained quite, unmoved by the parental malediction 
and a dream which he had seemed to him to set the 
Divine approval upon his disinterested conduct. 

" The Blessed Virgin rewarded me that very night. 
For it seemed to me that I was lying prostrate in 
prayer before her altar, as the brothers are wont when 
they rise for matins ; and I heard the voice of the 
Blessed Virgin calling me. Lifting my face, I saw her 
sitting above the altar in that place where is set the 
Host. She had her little boy in her lap and she held 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 43 

Him out to me, saying, ' Approach without fear and 
kiss my son, whom yesterday thou didst confess before 
men.' And when I was afraid, I saw that the little 
boy gladly stretched out His arms. Trusting His 
innocence and the graciousness of His Mother I drew 
near, embraced, and kissed Him ; and the benign 
Mother gave Him to me for a long while. And when I 
could not have enough of it, the Blessed Virgin blessed 
me and said, ' Go, beloved son, and lie down, lest the 
brothers rising from matins find thee here with us.' 
I obeyed and the vision disappeared, but unspeak- 
able sweetness remained in my heart. Never in the 
world have I had such bliss." 

Yet, as Salimbene grew older, he hardly maintained 
this high level. The inner vision never quite failed him, 
but his interest in the outer world quickened and his 
insatiable curiosity made of him an incurable humanist. 

Salimbene 's chronicle teems with wars and rumours 
of wars, crimes, famines and horrors of every kind. 
Yet it also contains some finely drawn portraits of 
great men. Take, for example, his description of 
St. Louis whom he saw at Auxerre, in 1248, at a 
Chapter of the Provincial General. " The King was 
slender and graceful, rather lean, of fair height, with 
an angelic look and gracious face. And he came to 
the church of the Brothers Minor, not in regal pomp, 
but on foot, in the habit of a pilgrim with wallet and 
staff. Nor did the King care as much for the society 
of nobles as for the prayers and suffrages of the poor. 
Indeed he was one to be held a monarch, both on the 
score of devotion and for his knightly deeds of arms. 
The following day he resumed his journey, and I 
followed him. It was easy to find him as he frequently 
turned aside to go to the hermitages of the brothers 

44 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

to gain their prayers. And this he kept up con- 
tinually until he reached the sea and took ship for the 
Holy Land." 

Yet with this genuine appreciation of saintliness, 
there was an equal appreciation of the good fare 
provided by the King for the Brothers Minor and we 
can imagine the horror with which St. Francis would 
have regarded his sympathetic description of the 
royal repast. " On that day first we had cherries 
and then the very whitest bread ; there was wine in 
abundance and of the very best, as befitted the royal 
magnificence. After that we had fresh beans cooked 
in milk, fish and crabs, eel pies, rice with milk of 
almonds and powdered cinnamon, broiled eels with 
excellent sauce, and plenty of cakes, herbs and fruits. 
Everything was well served and the service at table 

Nevertheless, Salimbene, though his stories are not 
always very refined, hated vice and drunkenness, and 
though fond of good living, reconciled himself on 
ordinary occasions to the cabbages which formed 
the staple of Franciscan fare. He was not ambitious 
nor had he any desire to leave the Order, only he 
liked to travel and see as much of the world as was 
possible. When his liberties in this respect were 
curtailed, he settled down with reasonable resignation 
to the humdrum life of an Italian brother. Nor was he 
ever idle ; he knew his Bible far better than most 
moderns, and as a student, scribe, preacher and con- 
fessor acquitted himself with credit. Yet, though he 
knew the purest and best of the early Franciscans, 
Bernard and Leo, the radiant figure of Francis rarely 
crosses his pages and we feel that the salt of the true 
Franciscan had already begun to lose its savour. 

The Early Franciscans in Italy 45 

It is, indeed, a far cry from the spiritual passion and 
self-effacing abandonment of St. Francis, walking 
literally in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, healing 
the sick, nursing the leper and preaching the Gospel 
to the poor to this self-satisfied and gossiping chronicler, 
making the best of both possible worlds and serving, 
without serious qualms of conscience, both God and 

But Salimbene is more typical of the later Fran- 
ciscans with whom love had grown cold, than of the 
second generation to which he belonged. And a 
severe critic of the Order, Mr. Coulton, has declared 
that " the Friars were still, until some time after Salim- 
bene 's death, the most real intellectual and moral 
force in Christendom." For there were many still 
who, with Jacopone and Angelo Clareno, found the 
Cross of Christ stronger in attraction than all the 
pleasures of the world and who possessed the Kingdom 
of God within them. 

" Nay, see, the Cross with flowers is ablow ; 
Decked with its silken pansies I go. 
Nought of its wounding, its burning, I know ; 
It useth me tenderly." 

Note. — The translations of Jacopone's poems given 
above are by Anne Macdonell. 



The Grey Friars arrived in England in 1224, nine 
years after the signing of Magna Charta and at the 
very moment when the walls of Salisbury Cathedral 
were rising above the ground. To understand the 
immense stimulus which they gave to spiritual, 
intellectual and constitutional freedom, it is necessary 
to take a bird's-eye view of the state of the country, 
at the time of their arrival. 

King John had been dead only eight years. During 
his lifetime he had outraged national sentiment by 
his political tyranny ; but on his death arbitrary power 
passed into the hands of the Pope. There has never 
been a time when the Pope exercised so great an 
influence on English affairs, or taxed the country so 
heavily. According to Grosseteste he drew from this 
country 70,000 marks annually, a sum equal to more 
than a million pounds of our present currency. The 
Friars, therefore, landed in England at a critical 
moment. The feudal system was breaking up, and 
the issues between arbitrary government and con- 
stitutional freedom were being fiercely debated. Into 
this struggle the Friars threw themselves with charac- 
teristic energy. As Bishop Creighton has pointed out, 
the life of St. Francis was based on the idea of in- 
dividual freedom, and this involved civic freedom and 


The Early Franciscans in England 47 

led up to it. Thus, in England the Friars were not 
only Mission preachers but also constitutional re- 
formers, preaching a Social Gospel, and entering, 
sometimes with undue violence, into political con- 
troversy. Their ideas found ultimate expression in 
the Baron's war, and many of them accorded to Simon 
de Montfort, after his death, the honours of a Saint. 

Bishop Stubbs has called the thirteenth century 
the " golden age of English Churchmanship," yet the 
conditions of ecclesiastical life at this epoch were far 
from ideal. There were few Bishops in the country. 
The diocese of Lincoln stretched from the Humber to 
the Thames, and during the interdict of John's reign 
only three bishops remained in the country. Episcopal 
visitations of the modern kind do not appear to have 
been held until the time of Grosseteste ; the villages 
were largely served by non-resident monks, many of 
them not even in priest's orders ; the towns were 
understaffed by secular clergy ; and until the coming 
of the Friars preaching in the vernacular was unknown. 
Above all, the suburbs of the towns were crowded 
by a poor labouring population, living in squalor and 
degradation and utterly neglected by every spiritual 

The thirteenth century was, however, " the golden 
age " of English Monasticism. When the Friars landed 
in England there were 560 monasteries in the country, 
430 of which had been founded during the preceding 
century and a half. 

The monks had, in their way, been great bene- 
factors. Their moral tone was high, their mental 
culture considerable. They were, at one and the 
same time, scholars, architects, builders, chroniclers, 
pioneers of enlightened farming, just and generous 

48 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

landlords, entertainers of travellers, succourers of the 
poor, as well as public remembrances of God by their 
continual services of prayer and praise. 

But the monks were aristocratic in tone, opposed 
to moral enthusiasm and confined to the country. 
The poor of the towns did not come within the range 
of their influence. 

A great gap then in the Church's system waited to 
be filled, and it was the followers of Francis who filled 
it. They descended into the insanitary slums outside 
the city walls and there not only preached the Gospel 
to the poor in their native tongue, but acted as nurses 
and physicians to the infirm. But the Friars were 
not only Medical Missionaries bringing physical and 
spiritual health to the cities ; they were also mis- 
sionaries of a broader culture to the Universities. 
For as Dr. Jessopp has said, " St. Francis' hatred of 
book learning was the one sentiment that he was 
never able to inspire among his followers : they 
could not bring themselves to believe that culture 
and holiness were incompatible or that nearness to 
God was possible only to those who were ignorant 
and uninstructed." But if they acquired knowledge, 
it was always with a practical aim in view. "To 
the Franciscan," says Professor Maurice, " doctrines 
presented themselves as precious for the sake of the 
wayfarer." Their coming to the Universities, at this 
particular crisis, was a matter of national importance. 
For the Universities were a new force of vital signifi- 
cance in the thirteenth century. They represented 
the superiority of mental culture to mere brute force. 
They were the strongest antidote to the narrow class 
influences of feudalism, and the aristocratic tendencies 
of monasticism. In J. R. Green's words, " the smallest 

The Early Franciscans in England 49 

University was European, not local," while the con- 
stitution on which they were based was purely demo- 
cratic. At Oxford, in the Middle Ages, the son of the 
nobleman and the son of the trader were on exactly 
the same footing. For " knowledge made the Master," 
and those who did not know, had to sit humbly at the 
feet of those who did. 

We have arrived then at this point. In 1224 there 
were two main forces making for social freedom in 
England, the towns and the Universities ; but what 
sort of freedom ? The answer to this question was 
largely determined by the Friars. It was not to be 
only political freedom, as the towns might have 
answered, nor only intellectual freedom, as the Uni- 
versities might have decreed, but moral and spiritual 
freedom, the freedom wherewith Christ claimed to 
set men free. " What gave St. Francis and his Friars 
their vast influence in the thirteenth century," says 
Father Cuthbert, " was just this fact, that in them 
the new world spirit was wedded to the deepest 
religious spirit of the period ; the spirit of democratic 
freedom to a fervent devotion to the person of the 
earthly Christ as the rule of their life." Thus they 
were a social power, claiming England, not in sections 
but as a whole, for the Kingdom of God. 

The story of the coming of the Friars to England is 
told us by the Franciscan Thomas of Eccleston in a 
plain unvarnished narrative. His work only covers 
the first thirty years of their labours, while they were 
still living in great poverty and simplicity and 
breaks off before the time when the Order had attained 
intellectual distinction through its distinguished school- 
men. Eccleston was a contemporary of the events he 
records and, if his narrative lacks the lightness and 

50 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

charm of the " Fioretti," it is far more accurate. It 
shows us in homely phrase how the followers of St. 
Francis managed to retain their joyousness and good 
humour, in the colder climate and under the more 
leaden skies of England. 

The Friars, nine in number, landed at Dover on 
September ioth, 1224, under the leadership of Agnellus 
of Pisa, who had been selected for the post by St. Francis 
himself. The company consisted of four clerics and 
five laymen. Of the clerics three were English, the 
fourth an Italian. After resting for two days at the 
Priory of the Holy Trinity at Canterbury, four of the 
party set out for London. The rest were assigned a 
small room at the back of a schoolhouse, where they 
remained shut up for the greater part of the day. In 
the evening, when the scholars had retired, they 
ventured forth into the schoolroom, where they sat 
round the fire, and partook of their simple refection. 
" Sometimes," says Eccleston, " they would put on 
the fire a small pot, in which were the dregs of beer, 
and would dip a cup into the pot, and drink in turn ; 
each speaking meanwhile some word of edification." 
In London, they rented a small house in Cornhill. 
At Oxford, they obtained a house in the parish of 
St. Ebbe, and " there," says Eccleston, " was sown the 
grain of mustard seed which was afterwards to become 
greatest amongst herbs." Within thirty-two yeais 
the Franciscans were able to count forty-nine houses 
of their Order in England, with 1242 brethren. The 
country was speedily mapped out into custodies, 
each custody being remarkable for some special note 
of sanctity. At London, it was " the spirit of fervour, 
reverence and devotion in the reciting of the daily 
office." Oxford was noted for its learning, York for 

The Early Franciscans in England 51 

its poverty, while the custody of Salisbury was con- 
spicuous for brotherly love. 

It was not the custom of the brothers, in these 
early days, to use pillows, or wear sandals, unless 
they were sick or delicate and then only with per- 

" It once happened," says Eccleston, " that brother 
Water de Madeley of happy memory found a pair of 
sandals and put them on when he went to Matins. 
And while he stood at Matins it seemed to him that he 
was more comfortable than he was wont to be. But 
afterwards when he went to bed and had fallen asleep, 
he dreamed that he was passing along a certain dan- 
gerous road between Oxford and Bagley, where 
robbers were often found : he had come down into a 
deep valley, when robbers came running out on 
either side, crying with a loud voice, ' Kill him, Kill 
him.' Much frightened, Brother Walter told them 
that he was a Friar Minor ; but they replied, ' Thou 
dost lie, for thou goest not unshod.' And he, be- 
lieving himself to be as usual barefooted, said, ' Nay, 
but I am unshod,' and thereupon confidently raised 
a foot. But in the robber's presence he found him- 
self shod in the aforesaid sandals. In great trouble 
of mind he then awoke, and taking the sandals, threw 
them out into the garden." 

Eccleston tells us of the humility with which the 
Friars confessed their sins to one another. " Were 
anyone accused by his superior or companion he at 
once replied, ' Mea culpa,' and frequently prostrated. 
Whereupon Brother Jordan of happy memory has 
related how the Devil once appeared to him and said 
that this ' mea culpa ' snatched from his grasp 
whatever hope he had of getting the Friars Minor, 

52 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

since, whenever one offended against another, he 
always acknowledged his fault." 

The homely wit of the Friars is pleasantly illus- 
trated in the following parable, related by Albert of 
Pisa, on account of a novice who was too wise in his 
own eyes and a busybody in other men's matters. 

" A certain countryman enamoured of the rest and 
joys of Paradise, reached the gate of Heaven, and 
asked St. Peter to admit him. St. Peter assented on 
condition of his keeping the Rules. When he asked 
what they were, St. Peter told him that he had nothing 
else to do except hold his tongue. Having gladly 
assented to the condition, the countryman was ad- 
mitted. But as he was walking through Paradise, 
he saw a man ploughing with two oxen, a lean and a 
fat one, and he allowed the fat ox to go as he would, 
but kept whipping the lean one. And, running up to 
him, the countryman rebuked him. Then St. Peter 
appeared and warned him. Forthwith the countryman 
saw a man carrying a long beam with which he wanted 
to enter a house, but he always turned the beam across 
the door ; and, running up to him, the countryman 
told him to turn one end of the beam forward. Again 
St. Peter appeared and warned him. Then the country- 
man saw a man lopping trees in a wood and he spared 
all the old and rotten trunks but cut down all the 
straightest, tallest and greenest. And, running up, he 
rebuked him. Then St. Peter appeared and inconti- 
nently expelled him." 

Another characteristic of the Friars is exemplified 
in the following : " An English Friar who was ill 
saw his Guardian Angel enter the room and seat 
himself by his bedside. After him came two devils, 
who accused the Friar of all the things which he had 

The Early Franciscans in England 53 

done amiss in his life. At last one of the devils said to 
the other, ' Besides, he is so frivolous, he laughs and 
makes jokes and cuts all manner of capers.' Then the 
Guardian Angel rose up and said to the devils, ' Be 
gone ; so far you have spoken the truth, but now you 
find fault with his cheerfulness and if you make out 
religion to be a sad and gloomy thing, you will drive 
his soul into the recklessness of despair and strangle 
his spiritual life,' and so saying, the Guardian Angel 
drove the fiends forth." 

Another parable of Brother Albert's, rebuking the 
presumption of young men, is worth recording. 

" There was a young bull who diverted himself in 
the meadows just as he liked. One day, about Prime, 
he turned aside to see the ploughing and beheld the 
senior bulls pacing leisurely along the furrow and doing 
but little work. So he rebuked them and told them 
that he would do as much as they at a start and they 
begged that he would come and help them. So, 
placing his neck in the yoke, he ran with great speed 
to the middle of the furrow and being weary and out 
of breath he looked round and said, ' What ! is it 
not all done ? ' And the old bulls answered, ' No,' 
and laughed at him. Then the young bull said that he 
could not go any further. ' Thereupon,' said they, 
' we advance with moderation because we have to 
work continually and not for a time only.' " 

The simplicity, kindliness and homely wit of the 
Friars procured them a hearty welcome wherever 
they went, especially with the middle classes and the 
poor. Their style of preaching was unlike anything 
that preceded it. It was crude, full of lucid denun- 
ciations of sin and illustrated by anecdotes and stories 
of a popular character. But whatever its defects it 

54 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

was racy and of the soil ; moreover it was commended 
by the life. Wherever to-day in our cities we stumble 
upon streets with the time-honoured names of " Friar 
Lane," " Friar Gate," " Grey Friars," there we know 
the disciples of Francis once nursed the sick and 
cleansed the leper and preached the Gospel of Divine 
Love to the poor in the mother tongue. 

We must now turn to a very different page of their 
history, to their work at Oxford where, for a generation 
at least, they produced the most brilliant scholars and 
thinkers in Europe. The fact that Robert Grosseteste, 
first Chancellor of the University and afterwards Bishop 
of Lincoln, became lecturer to the Order gave the 
Franciscans an admirable start at Oxford. A man 
of great moral earnestness, encyclopaedic knowledge 
and reforming zeal, Grosseteste 's strong and fearless 
character impressed itself on the leaders of the Fran- 
ciscan movement, while his intellectual enthusiasm acted 
as a powerful stimulus on the minds of his pupils. 

The Friars came to Oxford with two main aims in 
view : to gain such a knowledge of Theology as would 
enable them to cope successfully with the heresy and 
unbelief of their day ; and to acquire such a knowledge 
of physical science as would assist them in their 
philanthropic labours. Thus the distinguishing feature 
of the Oxford Franciscans was their practicality. 
" Before all," wrote Roger Bacon, " the utility of 
everything must be considered, for this utility is the 
end for which the thing exists." 

The Oxford course for a Franciscan was no light 
and airy matter in the thirteenth century. In the 
first place, he was thoroughly grounded in the Bible. 
Grosseteste insisted on the Old and New Testaments 
as the only sure foundations of teaching and caused 

The Early Franciscans in England 55 

them to be made the subject of all morning lectures. 
Learned Friars lectured at the University on ethics 
and practical theology, Biblical exegesis and physics. 
Each Friary sent up its most promising scholars who 
had already accomplished eight years' study in Arts. 
After six years' study at Oxford, each scholar was 
presented to the Chancellor and Proctors and an 
enquiry made concerning his morals and mental 
efficiency. If he satisfied his examiners, he was 
admitted " to oppose in theology " and two years 
later could become a respondent. This meant that he 
was allowed to take part in public theological disputa- 
tions, an admirable training for those who had to 
brush up against the sharp-witted burghers of the 
towns, given as these were to argument and destructive 
criticism. Had it not been for the Friars the Middle 
Classes would not only have been lost to the Church 
but would have become its most active assailants. 
Owing, however, to their training in dialectics, their 
practical genius and ready sympathy, the Friars 
found in men of trade and commerce their warmest 
supporters. They received more legacies from trades- 
men than from any other class. 

The Friars were supported at Oxford by a system 
of Exhibitions inaugurated by Grosseteste. 

The usual Exhibition amounted to £5 a year, which, 
we assume, covered the ordinary expenses of living at 
this period. Masters and lecturers were supported by 
the Friary in which they lectured, for from Oxford and, 
to a smaller degree, from Cambridge went out a small 
army of trained teachers to the provinces. Continental 
Universities frequently filled their professorial chairs 
with Oxford Friars, while Franciscans from every 
country in the West migrated to the city on the Isis. 

56 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Under the influence of Grosseteste and the Friars, 
Oxford became the headquarters of constitutional 
opposition to Royal and Papal oppression and the 
Propagandist of the New Learning. Richard of Bury 
says of the libraries of the Mendicant Orders at the 
English Universities, " there we found heaped up, 
amidst the utmost poverty, the utmost riches of 
wisdom." The English language itself owes a great 
debt to the Friars. Though classical scholars, they 
preached and taught in the vernacular ; and it was 
because they did so that the century which first saw 
English poetry attain to self-consciousness in Chaucer, 
also saw English prose first express itself in the clear 
and vigorous tracts of John Wyclif. 

The two greatest Friars of the first generation in 
England were Adam Marsh and Roger Bacon. 

Adam Marsh, known as Doctor illustris, was educated 
at Oxford, and after holding a cure of souls near Wear- 
mouth joined the Friars Minor and was their first 
lecturer. Among his pupils were the three most 
illustrious schoolmen of the Order, Bacon, Duns Scotus 
and Occam. Of his own writings, only his letters, 247 
in number, have survived. These written to corre- 
spondents of all classes show how the followers of 
St. Francis " became all things to all men ' and 
explain why the early Friars were as deeply loved in 
England as their successors in the time of Chaucer and 
Piers Ploughman were distrusted and despised. 

Adam Marsh was a man whose counsel and sym- 
pathy everyone sought and upon whose energies almost 
superhuman demands were made. He was literally 
here, there and everywhere. At one moment advising 
the Archbishop, at another preaching a Crusade, now 
at Rome with St. Anthony of Padua opposing Brother 

The Early Franciscans in England 57 

Elias, now with Grosseteste at the Council of Lyons, now 
at Oxford endeavouring to keep the peace among three 
thousand unruly students, who were attacking the 
Jews, having frays with the townsmen, or assaulting the 
foreign cook of the Papal Legate. But wherever he is, 
Adam Marsh is a Peacemaker. He pours oil on the 
troubled waters, he rebukes or soothes the angry, he 
encourages the unhappy and unfortunate. At one time 
he is interceding for a penitent thief, at another he is 
helping a poor woman at Reading overwhelmed by the 
quibbles and delays of the lawyers, or asking Grosse- 
teste to aid some deserving scholar, or protecting 
Juliana, a poor widow, from oppression. To Simon de 
Montfort he writes with the greatest intimacy and 
freedom. He tells him that " his only hope of safety 
against the dangers of his enemies, the plots of deceitful 
friends and the reverses of the world was in reliance 
upon Him who sits on the throne of Justice and Judg- 
ment ; if the Earl would be careful of preserving in his 
own person, his soldiers and servants, and in all 
belonging to his Government, devotion to God, un- 
broken loyalty, friendship with one another, charity 
towards all." He warns him frankly against his 
besetting sins : " better is a patient man than a strong 
man, and he who can rule his own temper than he who 
rules a city." He encourages him in his desperate and 
thankless task of bringing Gascony into a state of 
peace and order. 

Creighton says that " it is not too much to say that 
it was the influence of Grosseteste and Adam Marsh 
which converted Simon from a wild and reckless 
adventurer into an English patriot." 

To the Countess of Leicester Adam writes with equal 
freedom, reproves her for failures of temper, warns her 


58 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

against extravagance in dress, congratulates her on the 
birth of a child, thanks her for concern about his health, 
impresses on her that God's goodness to her merits a 
proportionate gratitude. 

Perhaps the noblest action of Adam Marsh was his 
interference on behalf of the Jews. In 1255 a boy, 
Hugh of Lincoln, was supposed to have been murdered 
by the Jews and it was alleged that he had been 
scourged and crucified in imitation of Our Lord. 
The whole charge was probably as baseless as a similar 
accusation made and disproved in Russia, shortly 
before the Great War. The Jews, however, as a 
consequence of the supposed crime, were exposed to an 
explosion of popular fury and many were put to death. 
Adam Marsh and the Franciscans alone opposed the 
arguments of the accusers, and Adam, defying the 
royal authority, forbade the execution of the accused. 
The result of this fearless conduct was that for some 
time after the Friars were regarded with disfavour and 
refused alms by the people. The whole story proves 
that if the Friars stood as a rule high in popular favour, 
they were at any rate not charlatans. 

Amidst all his multifarious occupations, Adam 

Marsh pursued his intellectual studies and was 

solicitous about the careful transmission of books. 

When at Lyons he sent for a copy of St. Gregory and 

other volumes, adding, " and you may pack the books 

neatly in a waxed cloth, taking off the wooden covers." 

Professor Brewer applies to him Chaucer's lively 

description of the Oxford scholar : 

" Of study, took he most care and heed, 
Not one word spake he, more than was need. 
All that he spake, it was of high prudence, 
And short and quick and full of great sentence, 
Tending to moral virtue was his speech 
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach." 

The Early Franciscans in England 59 

But, above all, Adam Marsh laboured for the 
reformation of the Church, by resisting the claims of 
King and Barons to appoint unfit persons to sacred 
offices. On one occasion he incurred the grave dis- 
pleasure of the King by a too outspoken discourse at 
Court ; but the monarch was afterwards placated, 
continuing to consult him and calling him his father. 
Grosseteste left his books to the University of Oxford, 
" out of love for Adam Marsh," whose character he 
summed up in the following words : "a true friend 
and faithful counsellor, respecting truth not vanity, 
a wise man and prudent and fervent in zeal for the 
salvation of souls." 

When at last, worn-out by his labours, he fell 
seriously ill, he begged St. Bonaventura to send him 
John of Stamford, " by whom, through God's blessing, 
I may be directed through things transitory and my 
thoughts raised to things eternal." He died at Lincoln 
and was laid to rest in the Cathedral by the side of 
Bishop Grosseteste, " that," says the chronicler, " as 
they were lovely and amiable in their lives, so in their 
death they should not be divided." 

If Adam Marsh was regarded by his contemporaries 
as a typical Friar, this was far from being the case with 
Roger Bacon. Bacon was born near Ilchester in 12 14 
and died in 1294. Of good family, he was educated at 
Oxford under Marsh and Grosseteste. At Paris, where 
he was known as Doctor Mirabilis, he spent several 
years in experiment and research. " Through the 20 
years," he says, " in which I laboured specially 
in the study of wisdom, careless of the crowd's opinion, 
I spent more than £2000 on occult books and various 
experiments, languages, instruments, tables and other 
things." He acquired a first-hand knowledge of 

60 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Arabic, which enabled him to acquaint himself with 
the best writings of the age on natural science. Yet 
though Bacon is one of the earliest prophets of science, 
it would be a mistake to imagine him free from the 
trammels and superstitions of his age. He saw, how- 
ever, and expressed with great clearness the import- 
ance of experiment and observation and fumbled after 
a true conception of natural law. " There are two 
modes," he says, " of arriving at knowledge, to wit 
argument and experiment. Argument draws a con- 
clusion and forces us to concede it, but does not make it 
certain or remove doubt unless the mind finds truth 
by way of experience." He illustrates this con- 
tention by saying that you can never convince a man 
by mere argument that fire burns, but experience soon 
sets the matter at rest. 

Bacon was really quite orthodox, even in the 
mediaeval sense, but unfortunately for himself he had 
not the conciliatory manner so necessary to a preacher 
of new truth and attacked his opponents with bitter- 
ness and exaggeration. The result was that he soon 
found himself deprived of all scientific apparatus and 
restricted to a diet of bread and water. Seething with 
enthusiasm and brimful of new matter and know- 
ledge, he raged like a caged lion in his narrow confine- 
ment at Paris. Then suddenly a great light illuminated 
his prison cell. Pope Clement IV bade him write the 
results of his discoveries, " notwithstanding the prohi- 
bition of any prelate or any constitution of thy Order." 
Bacon was excited and overjoyed beyond measure and 
expressed his gratitude in language which is truly 
pathetic. " The Saviour's vicar, the Ruler of the Orb, 
has deigned to solicit me who am scarcely to be named 
among the particles of the world. Yet, while my 

The Early Franciscans in England 61 

weakness is oppressed with the glory of this mandate, 
I am raised above my own powers, I feel a fervour of 
spirit, I rise up in strength. And, indeed, I ought to 
overflow with gratitude, since your Beatitude com- 
mands what I have desired, what I have worked out 
with sweat and gleaned through great expenditures." 

Unfortunately, Bacon was penniless, enjoined to 
secrecy and the Pope far too busy to think of sending 
him any money ; worst of all, the works required of 
him were not yet written. Yet by a stupendous mental 
effort Bacon finished within eighteen months the four 
great works by which he is still remembered, the Opus 
Majus, the Opus Minus, the Opus Tertium and the 
Vatican fragment. Of their immediate fate we know 
nothing. Clement IV died the following year. Bacon 
was again imprisoned, shortly afterwards released, and 
after composing a final work, the Compendium of 
Theology, died, in his eightieth year. 

The works of Roger Bacon are so numerous but so 
scattered that they have been compared to the 
Sybilline leaves. Many of them still lie in manuscript 
in British and French libraries. 

Bacon insisted on the importance of geometry and 
mathematics, and showed how these sciences could be 
applied to the solution of such problems as the light of 
the stars and the ebb and flow of the tide. He described 
the anatomy of the eye from first-hand knowledge, 
discussed the laws of reflection and refraction, the 
construction of mirrors, lenses and even the telescope, 
though the latter must have been of a very elementary 
character. His work on optics is his most original 
contribution to the science of his time and his investiga- 
tion into the nature and cause of the rainbow is said by 
experts " to be a fine specimen of inductive research." 

62 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Modern criticism, however, allows to Bacon very 
little in the way of mechanical discovery. What is 
really notable about him is the extent to which he 
transcended the scientific ignorance of his times and 
anticipated the direction of future discovery. In his 
own age he was " a voice crying in the wilderness," a 
seer gazing into the Promised Land of science into 
which he himself was not allowed to enter. In this 
connection it is interesting to note that his admirable 
treatise of geography was used by Columbus in his 
discovery of America and that he foretold the invention 
of flying machines, though he did not like Leonardo 
da Vinci actually construct one. Professor Maurice, 
after remarking that the dramatists of Queen 
Elizabeth's days had an instinctive sense that " in 
seeking for the secrets of Nature Bacon had been a 
witness for the freedom of man," adds, " our own 
conviction is that the moral and metaphysical student 
is not under less obligations to him than the physical 
and that he helped to teach theologians the worth of 
their own maxim, that the greatest rewards are for 
those who walk by faith and not by sight." 

To pass from the story of individual English Fran- 
ciscans to their general relation to their times leads 
us to ask in what ways they anticipated or influenced 
the Wyclifites ? Professor Brewer says, " Wyclif is the 
genuine descendant of the Friars, turning their wisdom 
against themselves and carrying out the principles he 
had learned from them to their legitimate political con- 

Certainly Wyclif had much in common with the 
Friars, especially on points of ecclesiastical policy. 
Like them he opposed Papal exactions and held that 
the State had the right, under certain circumstances, 

The Early Franciscans in England 63 

to interfere with the temporalities of the Church. 
But when Wyclif attacked the mediaeval doctrine of 
the Mass the Friars were up in arms, and Wyclif 's later 
years were spent in bitter polemics against their theo- 
logical position. It argues well for the Friars that 
though Wyclif charges them with lack of spirituality, 
he finds it difficult to levy against them any definite 
charges of a grave or immoral nature. 

The English Franciscan who most vigorously 
attacked the Papal system, showing " the long- 
concealed antagonism between the theories of Hilde- 
brand and Francis of Assisi," was William of Occam, 
who died in 1349. He can hardly be called an early 
Franciscan, but inasmuch as he stated in memorable 
language the real difference between the ideal of 
St. Francis and the Papacy and forecasted the trend of 
ecclesiastical opinion in this country, his position may 
be suitably summarised. " Occam," says Creighton, 
" is opposed to the Papal claims to temporal monarchy 
and spiritual infallibility ; for the Head of the Church 
is Christ and by her union with Him the Church has 
unity." Again, " The Pope may err, a General Council 
may err, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church are not 
entirely exempt from error. Only Holy Scripture, and 
the beliefs of the Universal Church, are of absolute 

Occam groped after the eternal elements in the 
faith of the Church, endeavoured to mark them off 
from what was of purely human authority, and above 
all from the worldly and temporary expedients of the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy. 

Nothing has as yet been said about the Third Order 
of St. Francis. Although the whole subject is involved 
in profound obscurity, it is unquestionable that Francis 

64 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

recognised a class of married people, living in the world, 
as affiliated to his spiritual family. This institution did 
as much to break down the wall of partition between 
the religious Orders and good people living in the world 
but not of it, as the Friars themselves did to break 
down the hard-and-fast line between cleric and layman. 
The members of the Third Order were bound to have 
no debts, to make their wills, so that there should be no 
disputes about succession to their property, to visit the 
sick and needy, to live lives of purity and soberness and 
in all reasonable ways to serve God in spirit and in 
truth. Through this Third Order Christian influences 
passed into innumerable English households, for there 
were few households which were not in one way or 
another connected with a tertiary of the Order of 
St. Francis. 

Our story of the Early Franciscans now draws to its 
close. We have watched the light of the Dawn rising 
over the hills of Umbria, touching the valleys of Italy 
with its rays, and illuminating even the crowded slums 
of our English cities. With the gold of the Franciscan 
movement there was no doubt much dross inter- 
mingled, as the fourteenth century was soon to prove ; 
but that the result of the movement for some time to 
come was one for the uplifting of humanity there can be 
no reasonable doubt. For in the words of Dr. Jessopp : 
" The Saint and the Prophet do not live in vain. They 
send a thrill of noble emotion through the heart of their 
generation and the divine tremor does not soon 
subside ; they gather round them the pure and 
generous, the lofty souls which are not all of the earth, 

But St. Francis did far more than this ; he gathered 
into the Gospel net the poor, the outcast and the 

The Early Franciscans in England 65 

sinner ; the men whom no one loved and for whom no 
one cared. He opened a fount of faith and love issuing 
in perpetual service of the Incarnate Christ which can 
never die. And with his spirit of love came freedom : 
freedom in Church and State, freedom of will and 
conscience, freedom in our conceptions of knowledge, 
human, scientific and divine. 

And of all lands our own lies most heavily in his 
debt. " Nowhere," says Mr. Stevenson, " has the 
Franciscan Order done so much as in England for the 
advancement and dissemination of knowledge ; no- 
where has it furnished so long a list of distinguished 
names ; nowhere has it presented so clear and clean 
a record of useful work." 

The Court, the Parliament, the Universities, the 
towns, the villages, all owed something to the followers 
of St. Francis ; for he left to a world in which selfish- 
ness and grasping avarice predominated the image of 
the divine life which is hid with Christ in God ; a life 
which asserts with every impulse of its being the 
transcendent truth that " where the spirit of the Lord 
is, there is liberty." 

Note. — The internal history of the Franciscan Order is 
a stormy one. The " Spirituals " were few, but bitter, 
their influence always greatly in excess of their numbers. 
The party of relaxation were worldly and their corruption 
is severely satirised in the literature of the fourteenth 
century. The majority of Franciscans, however, belonged 
to a third party, " the Moderates," whose more conciliatory 
policy, and deeper spirituality, is typified by St. Bona- 
ventura. In 1370 arose a reforming branch of the Order, 
" the Observants," who upheld learning but adhered to 
poverty and simplicity of life. The leader of this move- 
ment was St. Bernardino, of Siena, whose life has been ably 

66 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

written by Mr. Ferrers Howell (Methuen). Leo X divided 
the Order into " Conventuals," who accepted the Papal 
dispensations in regard to poverty, and " the Observants," 
who held to their Founder's Testament ; the latter are 
to-day by far the most numerous and influential. The 
Order has always been the largest in the Church. At the 
time of the Reformation it numbered nearly 100,000 
brothers ; to-day it has about 26,000, including " the 
Capuchins," founded in 1525, and allied in spirit to " the 
Observants." The Franciscans, largely recruited from 
the poor, have been, on the whole, the consistent friends 
of the poor ; they have also a notable record in missionary 
work amongst Moslems. 

In support of the statement on page 48 that monastic 
influence was confined to the country, see Professor 
Brewer's Monumenta Franciscana, Preface, page xi, el seq. : 
" Monasteries had provided for the spiritual rule and 
welfare of the country; for the towns there was no such 
provision." The Friars were as a rule bitterly opposed by 
the monks. Their religious ideal was a novel one, they 
were " to all intents and purposes laymen, bound by 
certain religious vows " (Brewer, page xxxv), while their 
social teaching was revolutionary. 



One of the chief attractions of history lies in its 
revelation of human character. The Monastic Orders 
in the West were a great school of originality. The 
same can hardly be said of the Jesuits. Yet 
their founder was a man of profound originality, 
and developed in his Society a new type of eccle- 

The Company of Jesus was an attempt to blend 
together several irreconcilable ideas, the Sermon on 
the Mount, the whole scheme of doctrine and morals 
current at the close of the Middle Ages, and a new 
theory of the relation of the Church to the State. But 
the originality of the Company of Jesus lies less in the 
body of doctrine which it formulated than in the 
methods which it employed. Loyola's successors soon 
perceived the impossibility of reconciling the world of 
the sixteenth century to more than a nominal accept- 
ance of Christian morality ; and, since to regain the 
world for the Church was the main object of the Jesuit, 
the principle of compromise became the salient 
characteristic of the Society, a cause both of its 
brilliant successes and of its irremediable failure. 

The main characteristics of Loyola's foundation 
may be briefly summarised as follows : — 

In the first place, it concentrated its energies on 


68 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

principalities and powers, it minded " high things," 
not condescending to " men of low estate." 

In the second place, its motto, Ad major em Dei 
gloriam, to the greater glory of God, was taken to 
imply the principle that the end both determines and 
justifies the means. 

In the third place, the Jesuit held a purely secular 
theory of the State which rendered it absolutely 
subject to the control of the Church, the theory of 
modern Ultramontanism. The Jesuit was taught to 
maintain that the people were the only true sovereign 
and consequently possessed the right to remove their 
Ruler at will, the theory, at a later date, of Rousseau 
and the French Revolution. Assassination of Pro- 
testant Rulers was justified by Jesuit writers like 
Mariana, the way being thus prepared by the society 
for the theories of Modern Anarchism. 

A fourth characteristic of the Society was the 
absolute devotion demanded of its members to the 
aims of the corporate body and to the despotic rule 
of its General. This devotion, though it led to heroic 
acts of self-sacrifice, led also to the idealisation of an 
external authority, willing, on occasion, to dispense 
with the canons of normal morality. 

Fifthly, the Jesuits reasserted the freedom of the 
will and, armed with an invincible optimism, believed 
in the possibility of universal salvation, though always 
within the Church. This belief stimulated the en- 
deavours of the Society both to win over men of fashion 
and influence by their suavity and social gifts and also 
to their heroic attempts to evangelise the heathen. 
While we in England, with our sleepy conservatism 
and narrow insularity of outlook, were still disputing 
over the rubrics of Edward VI's Prayer Books, Xavier 

Ignatius Loyola 69 

was preaching in Japan to a " people governed by 
reason," and dying alone and unbefriended on the 
lonely shores of China. 

Now from such a Society all who admire the heroic 
spirit, even when tainted by ambition, cannot with- 
hold a measure of admiration. 

The founder of the Jesuits (though that name, first 
employed by Calvin and the Parliament of Paris, was 
only given them by their enemies) was Ignatius, 
eighth son of Don Bertram, hidalgo of Loyola. The 
castle in which Ignatius was born was situated in the 
most purely Basque province of Spain under the 
shadow of the Pyrenees. His birth took place in 1491, 
the year before the discovery of America. Ignatius 
was trained as a page at the court of Ferdinand the 
Catholic. From his earliest years, he shared in the 
passion for renown which characterised the Spaniards 
of that stirring epoch. Without real education, he. 
devoured with eagerness the flowery romances popular 
in his day, but soon to fall into contempt through 
the satire of Cervantes. A bold knight, vain of his 
personal appearance, Ignatius led at first a life of 
considerable irregularity. He said of himself that, 
up to his twenty-sixth year, he was entirely given up 
to the vanities of the world. 

When, in the spring of 1521, the French laid siege 
to Pampeluna, the garrison was prepared to surrender 
at once but Ignatius persuaded the commander to 
continue the defence, fighting himself with supreme 
courage until the citadel was taken. Ignatius' right 
leg was broken by a cannon ball, while a splinter 
injured his left. His enemies, admiring his bravery, 
sent him back in a litter to the castle of Loyola. On 
his arrival it was found that the bone had been so 

70 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

clumsily set that it was necessary to break it again, 
an operation which the patient endured unmoved. 
Even then a bone protruded unduly, but this was 
removed at the injured man's request. On the con- 
clusion of the whole business, one leg was found to be 
shorter than the other and Ignatius remained lame for 

During this long illness Loyola sought for recreation 
in reading. He asked first for the Romances of Chivalry, 
but, none of these being procurable, he was given a 
life of Christ, and The Flowers of the Saints. He found 
a special fascination in the stories of St. Dominic and 
St. Francis. " What," he said to himself, " if I did 
this thing which blessed Francis did, what if I copied 
Dominic in this ? " At the same time he was equally 
desirous of winning the approval of a certain high- 
born lady, and would ponder what services he might 
yet perform to win her praise and goodwill. 

Thus the early years of Ignatius present us with 
two salient characteristics of his later life. At Pam- 
peluna he was for no surrender ; at Loyola, he aspired 
to outrival Francis and Dominic in their spiritual 
feats. The raw material of an aspiring character was 
in him from the first ; but it required the rude buffet- 
ings of an adventurous career, the discipline of edu- 
cation and the unifying force of a single dominating 
aim to complete the transformation of his strong and 
masterful intellect. 

It will indeed be generally found that the men who 
have most powerfully moulded the religious temper of 
their times have themselves survived an unusually 
stormy apprenticeship ; having fought their way to 
light and conviction unaided by friends and counsellors. 

As it was with Francis and Luther, so it was with 

Ignatius Loyola 71 

Loyola. He has himself left it on record that he 
sought in all directions for someone " to understand 
and help him, but found none." Thus, when he at 
last attained to peace and self-mastery, it was natural 
that " spiritual direction " should figure as an im- 
portant item on his programme for humanity ; that 
he tried to compress into a single month for others 
those " spiritual exercises " which, in his own case, 
had spread themselves over the agony and conflict of 
many years. 

The naive and almost childish efforts of Loyola to 
understand the will of God, during these early years, 
explain also an important principle of Jesuit teaching. 
Two men may be equally good but for want of spiritual 
knowledge one may be condemned to a life of practical 
uselessness, while the other will become a force making 
for reason and human well-being. Thus Loyola's 
most cherished aim in these uninstructed days was 
to prove his earnestness by going on pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem. It was a hackneyed and time-wasting 
project, but it seemed something to be willing to 
endure cold and heat, hunger and thirst ; and it might 
" satisfy the hatred he had conceived against himself." 
Thus with stern resolution he set his face eastwards 
in search of light, in the very same year in which 
Luther in the solitude of the Wartburg was translating 
the Scriptures. Each was to come by his own at last, 
Luther in Freedom, Loyola in Authority, but by 
what throes and pains of travail ! For the errors of 
many generations had made Truth difficult of access, 
impossible almost of individual appreciation. Strange 
enough, too, both ended in tyranny ; Luther's theories 
in the absolutism of the State, coupled with spiritual 
anarchy ; Loyola's theories in spiritual absolutism. 

72 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

It was in 1522 that Loyola set out on pilgrimage to 
Our Lady of Montserrat, scourging himself daily on 
the journey. With his head full of Amadis of Gaul, 
he spent a whole night before the altar of Our Lady, 
kneeling or standing until dawn broke. He was now, 
in his own sight, a knight of Holy Church. He next 
made a written confession of his own sins, which took 
him three days, during his Retreat at the Benedictine 
Convent. Here he became acquainted with the 
Exercises of Father Garcia de Cisneros, a fact of much 
importance to him, for they became the basis of his 
own Spiritual Exercises. One characteristic difference, 
however, distinguishes the spiritual exercises of the 
Jesuits from those of the Benedictines. The Bene- 
dictine used them in solitude for his individual benefit ; 
the Jesuit was given them by his spiritual Director 
who intervened between his soul and God. Loyola 
carried this invaluable work with him when he left 
Montserrat ; and for years to come it formed the 
subject-matter of his daily meditations. 

Unable to sail for Palestine, on account of the 
plague, Loyola now turned aside to the little town of 
Manresa, where he daily begged his bread from door 
to door. During his sojourn in this place he practised 
the utmost austerities, denying himself food and 
sleep, torturing himself with every conceivable scruple 
and wondering whether he should be able to sustain 
his spiritual conflict to the end. 

Finding himself unable in his emaciated condition 
to enjoy the fruits of devotion, he was harassed by 
an inner voice saying to him, " How canst thou 
possibly endure such a life as this through the fifty 
years yet before thee ? " " Canst thou, O wretched 
creature," he replied, " promise me even one hour of 

Ignatius Loyola 73 

life ? " The discipline of Manresa, nevertheless, did 
great things for Ignatius ; it convinced him of the 
folly of extreme asceticism, it led him to recognise that 
the body as well as the soul is an instrument of the 
Divine Will, and that, for the sake of efficiency, both 
must be cared for if the work of life is to be success- 
fully performed. Much more difficult did he find it to 
quiet his purely spiritual scruples. Reflecting on his 
written confession, it seemed to him that he had 
omitted first this point and then that ; thus he was 
tormented with an agony of unrest. From such mor- 
bidity Luther found an escape through his doctrine of 
" justification by faith," and by his maxim " sin 
boldly " : Loyola had yet to secure his peace by his 
theory of the end which justifies the means ; a prin- 
ciple which distracts the mind from petty scruples 
by fixing it on great and ultimate purposes. For the 
present, however, Loyola's Dominican confessor did 
not afford him much comfort. He told him not again 
to confess any of his past sins, unless they seemed to 
him very heinous. Since, however, to Loyola's morbid 
mind all offences seemed equal, this solution by no 
means ended his despair. 

A characteristic prayer which escaped him at this 
time shows the deep waters through which he was 
passing on his way to the firmer mind of later years. 

' Make haste to help me, O Lord ; for there is no 
help in man, neither in any creature do I find relief ! 
Ah ! if I knew where I might find it, no labour would 
seem great or hard ; Lord, show me where it is hid. 
As for me, had I to go to a dog's whelp and take my 
cure from him, I should do it." Perhaps if we re- 
membered oftener that it is by such steep paths that 
the heroes of the Church scaled the sublime heights of 

74 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

perfection we should possess more of that Christian 
charity which " thinketh no evil." 

Ignatius was delivered from the madness of his 
morbid fancies by his departure from Manresa for 
the East. Travel brings a man into contact with 
the vast spaces and silences of Nature, presenting an 
objective so engrossing as to deliver the most morbid 
from the barren agonies of introspection. Passing 
through Italy on foot, the pilgrim deepened his know- 
ledge of men, missing nothing of importance but ob- 
serving all around him with his searching vision. It 
was his custom, when at table, never to speak except 
very briefly, but to listen closely to all he heard, 
registering mentally any remark which would enable 
him to lead the conversation to the subject of God 
when the meal was over. 

Owing to the unsettled state of the country, Loyola 
was not allowed to remain long in Palestine ; on his 
return to Italy he experienced some inconvenience 
owing to his spiritual scruples. Having to pass through 
armed camps, it seemed to him wrong to call the 
officers before whom he was brought " Lord " or 
" Master," since the Gospel restricted the application 
of such titles to Christ alone. The result, however, 
did not prove as serious as might have been expected. 
" The fellow is mad," replied the Governor before 
whom he was brought ; " give him his belongings, and 
send him away." 

Loyola returned to Barcelona in the Lent of 1524, 
resolved to devote himself to study. At first he 
found the necessary concentration of his intellectual 
faculties a severe and difficult matter, but his iion 
will stood him in good stead, and with a humility which 
it is impossible not to admire, he was content at the 

Ignatius Loyola 75 

age of thirty-three to sit with mere boys upon the 
benches of the University. 

After spending two years in mastering the School- 
men, Loyola passed to the University of Alcala, where 
he employed his spare time in giving the Spiritual 
Exercises to his disciples, thus arousing the suspicions 
of the Holy Office. The reign of Terror inspired by 
the Spanish Inquisition lies outside our subject, but 
it should not be forgotten that, during the first 139 
years of its working, this institution is said to have 
banished or exterminated three millions of human 
beings. Yet Loyola, though he disapproved of its 
methods and suffered from its intolerance, afterwards 
came to uphold the whole scheme of Papal doctrine 
and discipline enforced by the Inquisition and Index. 
The authors of the Inquisition were the Dominicans, 
whose methods differed widely from those of the Jesuits. 
The latter were in favour of argument, persuasion and 
even tactful concession, the former were the servants 
of a theory of brute force. 

The Dominicans were, indeed, responsible for the 
departure of Loyola from his native land. They threw 
him into prison for forty-two days, chaining him and 
his companions together by the feet. After a second 
imprisonment at Salamanca, being forbidden to preach 
until he had studied for four years longer, he decided 
to proceed to Paris ; unable, as he said, to see the 
justice of the verdict which had been imposed upon 
him, " since though he had spoken no evil, they had 
closed his mouth." 

With Loyola's departure for Paris, where he spent 
the next seven years, a more cosmopolitan stage of 
his activity opens ; for there he gathered about him 
the first members of the Company of Jesus, while his 

j6 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

own education proceeded upon more philosophical 
lines. Believing that he had passed too hastily to 
the higher branches of study, he now went back to 
the humanities ; sitting again with mere youths on 
the benches of undergraduates. His expenses at this 
time were defrayed by the alms of devout women at 
Barcelona, but he was ever ready to deny himself 
that he might enable others to prosecute their studies 
more efficiently. The heroic unselfishness of Loyola 
at Paris was, indeed, the predisposing cause of his 
success. " He gained," says a severe critic, " the 
affections of his companions in a hundred ways, by 
kindness, by precept, by patience, by persuasion, by 
attention to their physical and spiritual needs, by 
words of warmth and wisdom, by the direction of 
their conscience, by profound and intense sympathy 
with souls struggling after the higher life." 

To one fellow-countryman he lent money which was 
never returned. On hearing, however, that this man 
had fallen seriously ill at Rouen, Loyola walked bare- 
foot to that city, nursed him through his illness and 
on his recovery placed him on board ship with letters 
of recommendation to his friends in Spain. 

On another occasion, having fruitlessly remonstrated 
with a Spaniard who was paying court to another 
man's wife, he adopted a mode of appeal which, if 
extravagant, was at least supremely noble. 

" Ascertaining," says Mr. Stewart Rose, " that on 
his way to visit the object of his guilty passion, his 
friend had to cross a bridge over the Lake of Gentilly, 
Ignatius repaired to the spot in the dusk of the evening 
and, taking off his clothes, stationed himself in the 
water up to his neck, awaiting the moment when the 
infatuated man should pass over. It was winter, and 

Ignatius Loyola yy 

the water icy cold ; the saint passed the time praying 
God to have mercy on this madman who had no 
mercy on his own soul. Absorbed in the thought of 
his criminal purpose the adulterer neared the bridge, 
where he was startled by a voice from the water which 
was vehement in its earnestness. " Go," it said, 
" and enjoy your odious pleasures at the peril of your 
life and of your immortal soul. I, meanwhile, will do 
penance for your sin. Here you will find me when you 
return ; and here every evening till God, whom I 
shall never cease imploring, shall bring your crimes 
or my life to an end." At these words and still more 
at the sight he beheld the man stood abashed and 
confounded ; he abandoned his guilty purpose and 
changed his whole course of life. 

Incidents like this explain the power which Ignatius 
exercised over his friends and make us understand 
why a man of the best blood in Spain, like Francis 
Xavier, always wrote his letters to Loyola on bended 
knee. With his appalling earnestness and supreme 
unselfishness Loyola united a versatility and shrewd- 
ness seldom found in the same character. Desirous of 
moving to shame a hard-hearted priest, he chose him 
as his confessor, retailing to him the story of his past 
life with such unfeigned agony and remorse that the 
heart of the priest was touched by seeing a man so 
vastly superior to himself moved to such profound 
depths at the thought of his own shortcomings. 

On another occasion, Loyola challenged an enthu- 
siastic billiard player to a contest at his own pastime 
on the condition that the loser should serve the winner 
for a month in whatever way the latter should demand. 
Loyola made use of his success by consigning to his 
adversary the performance of the Spiritual Exercises, 

j8 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

which formed the initial discipline of all his fol- 

Thus, like the Apostle, Loyola became " all things 
to all men " that he might " by all means save some." 
For patiently as he waited and closely as he observed 
the mental characteristics of men, he always meant 
to bring them ultimately under the yoke of his spiritual 

For this purpose, he directed his attention primarily 
to the able, the well-born and the influential. No one 
was admitted into the Company of Jesus in its earliest 
days unless endowed with good health, mental talent, 
moral earnestness, good manners and attractive person. 
The Society /was to be a kind of spiritual elite, to win 
back those who lived in high places and directed the 
destinies of mankind. Of these early disciples one was 
of outstanding merit and possessed perhaps the most 
original mind ever employed in the service of the 
Society, Francis Xavier. Physically no one could be 
less like his master. Loyola was of middle height, 
with swarthy complexion, dark glowing eyes, bald 
head, and limping gait. Xavier, though dwarfish in 
stature — he was under five feet — had clear blue eyes, 
fair hair, finely chiselled features and a buoyant step. 
He was, moreover, of a cheerful and even hilarious 
temperament and found much food for amusement 
and satire in the sordid clothing and solemn bearing 
of his future chief. Nevertheless, the two gradually 
drew together, and in the end the elder drew the younger 
into the wake of his stronger purpose. When Xavier's 
lectures on philosophy began to lose their popularity 
Loyola exerted all his influence in beating up fresh 
pupils. When Xavier's purse was empty Loyola 
replenished it, giving him the alms which he himself 

Ignatius Loyola 79 

had begged. He entered, too, with keen sympathy into 
all Xavier's interests and ambitions ; only at the close 
of their conversations, he would quote in terms of 
unforgettable solemnity, the words of Christ : " What 
shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and 
lose his own soul ; or what shall a man give in exchange 
for his soul ? " These oft-repeated words, resented at 
first by Xavier, began as time went on to fasten 
themselves upon his conscience and imagination. 
From despising the sordid dress and unconventional 
manners of his friend, he learned by degrees to admire 
the versatility, the patience and, above all, the im- 
movable purpose of Ignatius. So that with Peter 
Faber, he was the first to enter the Company of Jesus. 
At dawn, on the Feast of the Assumption, 1534, he 
took the vows of poverty and chastity and received 
the Communion with his friends in the Church of Our 
Lady at Montmartre. 

Of what character were the Spiritual Exercises em- 
ployed by Loyola to break in his followers to his way 
of life ? They were a carefully graduated series of 
meditations, based on a religious theory of the End of 
Man. " I come from God, I belong to God, I am 
destined for God : that is to say, God is my first 
principle, my sovereign master, my last end." 

The Exercises, used under the direction of a superior, 
are extended over four weeks, during which the 
disciple remains entirely excluded from the sights 
and sounds of the outer world. He is to pass through 
a discipline so vivid and searching that its impression 
can never be effaced by any subsequent experience. 

During the first week, he is to examine his conscience. 
Every period of his life is to be thoroughly searched, 
every infirmity of deed or thought to be brought to 

80 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

light, until his own self-contempt is thoroughly 
established and he is made to feel like a convicted 
criminal before the bar of an offended judge. Having 
realised his life as an outrage against the Divine 
Clemency, he is led on during the second week to 
contemplate the life and rule of his Redeemer, to enrol 
himself among his faithful followers, choosing a plan 
of life suitable to his own gifts and character. The 
third week leads him to the Love and Mystery of Our 
Lord's Passion, sensibly realised, while the concluding 
week is given up to an equally sensible realisation of 
Christ's Ascended Glory. 

The novelty of Loyola's training lay chiefly in two 
points. Intense concentration on a few main principles 
of doctrine and life and the vigorous employment of the 
five senses. The neophyte of the Company of Jesus 
sees, touches and handles spiritual things. He lives 
again through the supreme vicissitudes of the Gospel 
story, he realises with a vivid and unforgettable horror 
the shortness of life, the physical humiliations of the 
grave, the terrors of judgment, the penalty and 
sufferings of the lost. Everything is clear, definite, 
precise. More, it is practical. After one of the most 
awful passages ever penned on the future state of the 
sinner, comes the quiet question, " What led them to 
this ? ' " The way which you perhaps have followed 
until this day ; the way of self-love, of sensuality, of 

To men who believed in the supernatural in a vivid 
and definite manner, without any of the reserves and 
evasions of the modern thinker, these meditations were 
full of meaning and of power. 

When the imagination was too sluggish, flagellation 
might be ordered, or other penances ; but these 

Ignatius Loyola 81 

austerities all vanished on the close of the Retreat. 
Loyola's idea was to pass his disciples as quickly as 
possible through this searching and effective initiation. 
When it was once over, asceticism might be discarded 
for ever ; " agreeable manners, a cheerful temper 
and ability for worldly business " were henceforth to 
be cultivated with a like assiduity. 

Judged by results the Spiritual Exercises must be 
pronounced wonderfully effective. They enabled 
many earnest souls to find a definite object for their 
life, to attain self-knowledge, to quiet their consciences 
for the past by a full confession ; above all to realise 
the presence of an Omnipotent Ruler, Redeemer and 
Judge. No Jesuit who had passed through these 
Exercises with belief and earnestness, could ever forget 
the place of purpose and effort in the life of the soul. 
Nor had the followers of Ignatius that humane culture 
which is repelled by the crude dogmas of his pitiless 

Loyola's seven years in Paris were the greatest of 
his life and exhale a kind of meridian splendour. 
The rest of his story is soon told. On revisiting 
his native country, he proposed to give instruction 
to children daily ; when assured by his brother that 
none would come, he replied, " One is enough for 

The last sixteen years of his life were spent at Rome, 
perfecting the organisation of the Society. His out- 
look on life became severer and more uncompromising, 
as he beheld the tide of innovation rising, intellectual 
freedom gaining ground and whole nations lost to the 
Catholic faith as he interpreted it. It was indeed a 
forlorn hope which he led, but with set resolution and 
? in conquerable persistence he was determined to yield 

82 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

no inch of ground, but rather to take his enemies' 
strongest positions by a vigorous offensive. 

The last phase of Ignatius is mirrored for us in an 
episode related by Mr. Rose. " He was now past sixty 
years old, infirm and broken in health ; yet he often 
said that at a sign from the Pope, he would take his 
staff and go on foot into Spain, or embark in the first 
vessel he found at Ostia, without oars, sails, or pro- 
visions, not only willingly but with joy. A nobleman 
who heard this, said in surprise, ' But where would be 
the prudence of doing this ? ' ' Prudence, my lord,' 
replied Ignatius, ' is the virtue of those who com- 
mand, not of those who obey.' " 

In this uncompromising spirit, he passed away, on 
the 30th of July, 1556. 

What were the aims and what has been the influence 
of the Society which he founded ? 

The name of the " Company of Jesus " was chosen 
with distinct reference to the military companies of 
adventure which played so important a role in the 
Middle Ages. Loyola's conception was that of a mobile 
force, a spiritual light horse, at the disposal of their 
General and the Pope ; in contrast with the older 
Orders which resembled infantry guarding a definite 
position and bound by vows of stability. 

That the name of Our Lord was chosen, instead of 
that of the founder, was another fresh departure, but 
one which no amount of pressure from Rome could 
induce Lo}^ola to alter. His idea was that of a direct 
return to the Sermon on the Mount, though with a very 
flexible mind he so adapted his teachings to the 
exigencies of his age that the simplicity of the dove 
was soon lost sight of in the subtlety if not the wisdom 
of the serpent. Men were to be brought into the 

Ignatius Loyola 83 

Church, even if their citizenship could only be procured 
by the surrender of Christian principle. But this was 
the work of his followers rather than of Loyola himself. 

Another characteristic of the Society was that it 
entirely reversed the existing views of the Religious 
Orders with regard to the supremacy of the inward over 
the outward life. In place of retirement, the Jesuit 
lived avowedly in the world. 

It was the supreme object of every member of the 
Company of Jesus to influence society by freely ming- 
ling with its members, gaining their confidence and 
directing their energies. They were instructed even to 
lay aside the clerical habit, the more completely to set 
at rest any scruples of the lay mind as to the advisability 
of being confidential with men of priestly caste. 

Allied to this diplomatic complaisance with the 
world was the esoteric character of Jesuit teaching. 
The Constitutions of the Society as drawn up by 
Loyola, with the glosses of his successors known as the 
Declarations, were, until modern times, inaccessible to 
the outsider. 

Again, while in the Benedictine Order everything 
relating to discipline was discussed openly at the daily 
gathering of the Chapter, in the Company of Jesus a 
system of universal espionage prevailed, every member 
from the General downwards being dogged by prying 
eyes, every motion being reported to the supreme 
tribunal which struck effectively and without warning. 

Again, every previous Order had been founded on 
democratic principles, but the Company of Jesus was 
commanded, like the Salvation Army in modern times, 
by a General of absolutely despotic power from whom 
there was no appeal. 

In the Company of Jesus, the Society was every- 

84 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

thing, the individual nothing, a mere instrument in the 
hand of the General, a pawn to be moved here or there 
as the great Intelligence behind the board directed. 
This Obedience was pressed to a point never before 
reached ; the obedience of a slave to his master, or of 
a dog to his human lord. Loyola's maxims do not leave 
us in any doubt upon this point. In his famous letter to 
the Portuguese Jesuits in 1553, he says : " I ought not to 
be my own, but His Who created me ; and his, too, 
through whom God governs me. I ought to be like a 
corpse, which has neither will nor understanding ; like 
a crucifix that is turned about by him who holds it ; 
like the staff in the hands of an old man who uses it at 
will." Again, " A sin, whether venial or mortal, must 
be committed, if it is commanded by the Superior, in 
the Name of Our Lord, or in virtue of obedience." 

Thus, in the words of Dr. Figgis, " the history of the 
Society of Jesus affords in its constitution the com- 
pletest exposition of Machiavelli's doctrine, which is, 
that the individual conscience is to be sacrificed to 
the community ; while its most characteristic moral 
principle extends into private life the same destruction 
of moral responsibility which the ordinary follower of 
Machiavelli would leave intact." Nor is Jesuit morality 
very far removed from that of Treitschke and Bern- 
hardi, except that the latter substituted the State for the 
Church, and the German Army for the Society of Jesus. 

Jesuit Divines have, indeed, plausibly argued that 
the maxims which we have quoted refer to extreme 
and obviously exceptional cases and that the moral 
record of the Society, which is a conspicuously high one, 
proves that they are not ordinary injunctions. Never- 
theless, as to play with fire is a dangerous pastime, so 
to manipulate human obedience without restraint, 

Ignatius Loyola 85 

even for great aims, is a perilous and, in the long run, a 
fatal course. Jesuit morality, as a matter of fact, 
rapidly deteriorated under this moral despotism which 
stifled the promptings of the unsophisticated conscience. 
Evasion and hypocrisy crept into the Order ; while the 
love of truth, without which human ethics are involved 
in inextricable confusion, ceased to be a characteristic 
of a great Christian society. 

It is true that the actual freedom enjoyed by the 
average Jesuit was far greater in practice than in 
theory, for no society possessed greater elasticity in 
working. Except when the credit of the Society was 
concerned, the individual Jesuit was treated with 
indulgence by his Superior. It was a special aim of 
Loyola's to give free scope to each man's natural 
abilities, so that every Jesuit possessed two of the 
strongest motives to labour, the development of his 
own intellectual powers upon congenial lines and the 
honour belonging to a renowned society working, with 
intensified sagacity, for great religious ends. 

Nor was this all. The Jesuit was hampered by no 
fixed hours for public devotion, no tedious round of 
study, he had no special fasts to keep or dress to wear. 
He was always welcomed by the best society, being not 
only permitted but encouraged to become a man of the 
world ; provided only that the aims of the Society 
were never lost sight of, and this the haunting memory 
of the Spiritual Exercises was likely to secure. 

The famous motto of the Society, ad majorem Dei 
gloriam, covered, as we have said, in Loyola's view 
the principle that the end determines and justifies 
the means. The glory of God, too, was identified, not 
with the Catholic Church in the widest interpretation 
of the term, but with the distinctly Roman Church of 

86 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

the sixteenth century, with all its abuses of practice, 
anachronisms of doctrine and perversions of morality, 
ineffaceably stamped as Divine. 

At the Council of Trent, three Jesuits acted as 
theological advisers to the Pope, and, if their influence 
in the decisions of the Council has been sometimes 
exaggerated, it is indisputable that the Jesuits did far 
more than any other body to popularise its teaching 
and enforce its dogmas. 

The machinery of the Society was constructed with 
superb ingenuity. The novice, separated from his 
family, was placed for two years under the care of a 
superior, who gave him partial instruction in the Jesuit 
constitutions and prepared him for future work 
according to the bent of his character and talents. At 
the end of this period vows were taken and the novice 
was drafted either into the secular or spiritual service. 
The Temporal Coadjutors managed the property of 
the Society, distributed alms, nursed the sick, acted as 
gardeners, porters and cooks. The more intellectual, 
classified as scholastics, entered the colleges of the 
Order to study languages, science and theology for 
five years. Afterwards they taught in schools for a 
similar period, received Priest's Orders and became 
Spiritual Coadjutors. From their body were drawn 
the professors, confessors and preachers of the Society. 
There were still, however, two further stages to be 
reached, the stage of the three and of the four vows. 
The latter group formed the core of the Society, and 
not more than 2 per cent ever reached this exalted 
position. Thus the esoteric character of the Society 
was preserved, the reins of government confined to a 
few experienced hands and secrecy of movement and 
policy made possible and easy. 

Ignatius Loyola 87 

Education was revolutionised by the Jesuits, who 
substituted new methods for those employed by the 
old grammarians, and acquired great popularity by 
their persuasiveness and tact. They did not, it is true, 
interest themselves in popular education, but expended 
immense pains in the instruction of the higher and 
middle classes. Even Protestants sent their children 
to be taught by them, partly because they believed in 
the excellence of their methods and partly because the 
Jesuits made no charge for tuition. New catechisms, 
primers and manuals of history, skilfully composed 
and graduated to the age of the pupil, made learning 
easy and agreeable. Fond parents were amazed by the 
rapidity of their children's progress, at their fluency 
and versatility which contrasted favourably with the 
pedantry and dullness of their own education. The 
Jesuits, too, made free use of recreation ; while 
they were entirely free from that stiffness and formality 
which erects a barrier between the teacher and the 
taught. Philology and mathematics, dialectics and 
rhetoric were favourite studies, dexterity in argument 
being the main aim pursued. History was taught 
from their own point of view, while experimental 
science was discouraged. The Jesuits produced 
excellent Latin scholars, but Greek was neglected 
because the Hellenic spirit did not harmonise with the 
spirit of the Society. It is the general opinion that the 
Jesuits were more successful in imparting information 
than in forming character, while the whole tendency of 
their system was to discourage original research. A 
more serious charge still was that of Sarpi, that they 
withdrew their pupil's allegiance from the Nation, the 
Government and the Family, in order to concentrate 
it upon themselves. 

88 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

As Preachers, the Jesuits were clear, simple and 
direct, and to them the Anglican Church owes, in 
modern times, the Good Friday devotion of the Three 
Hours. A less healthy growth, in the form of books of 
sickly and sentimental devotion, is also due to the 
Society, though in this department they by no means 
possessed a monopoly. It was, however, in the Mission 
Field that the Jesuits won their noblest laurels, and 
showed themselves to the greatest advantage. Their 
missionaries in China and India, in Japan, Mexico and 
Paraguay won for the Society an honourable renown 
and sustained its reputation for holiness, when its 
political intrigues nearer home had begun to shed a 
sinister light upon its maxims and practices. In these 
countries they were the genuine pioneers of Christian 
civilisation, while their protection of the slave, by the 
Codes which they drew up for his social and religious 
amelioration, is in striking contrast with the methods 
of contemporary Protestantism. As Sir Harry Johnston 
has recently shown, the lot of the Spanish slave was far 
preferable to that of the English or Dutch slave in the 
New World. Yet even in the Mission Field, deteriora- 
tion soon set in under the fatal concessions of com- 
promise and the desire for short cuts to ephemeral 
renown. At a Council held at Lima it was decreed 
inexpedient to impose any act of Christian devotion 
except Baptism on the South American converts, 
without the greatest precautions, "on the ground of 
intellectual difficulties." 

When we turn from Jesuit triumphs in education 
and missionary enterprise to their casuistry, we are 
forced to handle a thorny and much-controverted 

One of Loyola's main objects was the spiritual 

Ignatius Loyola 89 

direction of Conscience. We have already seen with 
what difficulty and after what painful struggles he had 
himself arrived at what he supposed to be the Light. 
It was natural that he should wish to guide others to 
the same goal by a more direct path. At the same 
time it was not to pure religion that he led them. 
Unconscious as he was of it, his whole world view was 
narrow and distorted, his views of morality warped and 
unsound. Doctrine was more than practice, prudence 
better than sympathy, power more valuable than 
truth. Probabilism, equivocation, mental reserve, 
directing the intention, undue allowance of extenuating 
circumstances, justification of doubtful means were 
dangerous weapons in the hands of a worthy confessor ; 
in the case of an unscrupulous adviser, they were 
certain to lead to wickedness and its palliation. 

Thus arose what Mr. Symonds has called " the Jesuit 
labyrinth of casuistry, with its windings, turnings, 
secret chambers, blind alleys and issues of evasion " : 
the system against which Pascal launched the bolts of 
his indignant eloquence and inimitable raillery in his 
Provincial Letters. Yet it is unfair to empty the vials of 
our superiority on Jesuit casuistry, as though it stood by 
itself in the history of the Church. Casuistry arises 
from the complications of competing social claims and 
partly, also from the too great deference of the indi- 
vidual conscience to external authority, especially in 
ages of imperfect enlightenment. 

The Reformation emphasised the Divine Education 
of the individual conscience, modern psychology has 
overthrown the barren science of abstract deduction, 
but it would have been impossible for Loyola either to 
have accepted the former or to have anticipated the 

go The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

If he is to be blamed, it is for unduly weakening 
the moral fibres of humanity by enunciating principles 
unsound in themselves and absolutely fatal to human 
nature with its inherent tendencies to evil. His 
condemnation is that of all opportunists who take 
short cuts to what seems to them great and desirable 

Jesuit casuistry was, however, far less responsible 
for the failure of the Society than the political views 
of Loyola's successors. 

The Jesuit theory of Politics was a simple one. The 
Ecclesiastical Power was by Divine Right the 
Supreme Power. The Church was the Soul of humanity, 
the State only its vile body. Since, then, the Soul 
should direct the Body and even punish it in time, 
for its eternal welfare, the people who owned allegiance 
to the Church might lawfully expel, remove (or, 
according to Mariana, assassinate) their nominal but 
heretical sovereign. From the time, therefore, that 
Aquaviva (Fifth General, 1581 to 1615) enunciated 
and Parsons with his followers put into practice this 
maxim, the Society became anathema to those in 
authority. A Jesuit seemed to lurk behind every con- 
spiracy, to foment every rebellion, to hasten the advent 
of every war. It was obvious that no society could 
have been universally expelled from European 
civilisation unless it had nourished the seeds of social 
disloyalty and thus justly deserved the penalty of social 

Nor can it be denied that such social disloyalty, 
though accentuated by his successors, was a logical 
consequence of the principles of Loyola in his later 
years ; for he was the implacable foe of individual, 
national and religious freedom. Nevertheless, as Dean 

Ignatius Loyola 91 

Church has pointed out, the original aims of Loyola 
were far loftier and more spiritual than those which he 
came to adopt as his own, in the face of continuous and 
successful opposition. 

" Ignatius did not begin with intending to found the 
Jesuits. He began with something at once humbler 
and greater. He began, as Luther began, with a 
violent and indignant reaction against the blindness 
and dullness of a firmly settled Catholicism, which had 
lost eyes and heart for the primary simple realities of 
its own overwhelming creed. ... To realise in 
imagination and conscience the actual truth of the 
example and words of Christ and to subdue his own 
will to a thorough and unqualified compliance with 
them, was the first great thought of Ignatius. . . . And 
to make others feel like him, his second. But the 
inherent love of power, the influence of Paris and Rome, 
the hatred of freedom and the worship of success led 
to a fatal blindness to truth, a fatal unscrupulousness 
of method, a fatal loss of simplicity and Christian 
charity, only too faithfully embodied in his famous 

At the present crisis of the world's history we can 
perhaps appreciate with a deepened intensity the fatal 
character of Loyola's mistakes. The world during the 
last decade has been suffering from precisely the same 
errors as those which he encouraged and the Company 
of Jesus continued to propagate ; absolutism, servile 
obedience to authority and political immorality. The 
Future lies with those who will sacrifice themselves, 
with no less devotion, to a nobler ideal, to freedom, to 
conscience and to social truth. For righteousness alone 
exalteth a nation. 

92 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Note. — The Company of Jesus was suppressed by Pope 
Clement XIV in 1773, under pressure from the sovereigns 
of Europe. The chief reasons given were : the Jesuits' 
defiance of their own constitution which forbade them 
to meddle with politics ; their condescension to heathen 
usages in the East ; the disturbances which they had 
stirred up even in Catholic countries ; the ruin caused 
to souls by their quarrels with local ordinal ies and the 
other religious Orders. 

But though suppressed, the Society soon rose again with 
renewed power and influence. In 1811 it was revived and 
reconstituted by Pius VII, and under Pius IX played 
a dominant part in the triumph of modern ultramon- 
tanism. The proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate 
Conception, in 1854 ; the Syllabus of 1864, which made 
the Pope sole judge of what was true in science, history 
and criticism ; the dogma of Papal Infallibility, in 1870 ; 
all these were the work of the Jesuits, favoured, promoted 
and abetted by the Supreme Pontiff. 

To the Jesuits, therefore, more than to any other body, 
we may fairly attribute the irreconcilable antagonism 
of the modern Papacy to the modern State, and also to 
modern thought and science. 


The noblest pages of Jesuit history are those which 
relate to their foreign missions. The real heroes of 
the Society are not the men who influenced the 
decisions of the Council of Trent, or planned the over- 
throw of Protestant sovereigns in Europe, but Francis 
Xavier and Isaac Jogues, who sacrificed every earthly 
comfort to preach Christ to the heathen. 

" The Jesuit," says Parkman, " is no dreamer, he is 
emphatically a man of action ; action is the end of his 
existence." These words form an appropriate intro- 
duction to the career of Xavier, whose brief life of 
forty-seven years was animated by a missionary 
energy only exceeded by St. Paul. 

Like Loyola, Xavier came from a Basque province of 
Northern Spain, and was nurtured among the Pyrenees. 
His father held high office under the King of Aragon, 
while his mother, from whom he derived the name 
Xavier, was the sole heiress of two ancient houses. Of 
Xavier's University life at Paris and of his early 
friendship with Loyola we have already spoken. When 
Loyola left Paris, Xavier took up his residence in the 
Hospital for Incurables at Venice, but soon after 
became Loyola's secretary at Rome. A year later came 
his call to the mission field. 

It was on the 14th of March, 1540, that Ignatius 


94 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

summoned him to his room and told him to leave Rome 
for Portugal the following day. Xavier accepted the 
commission by stooping to kiss the feet of his former 
companion ; afterwards returning to his room to mend 
his tattered cassock and to prepare for his long journey 
to India. On passing through the Pyrenees, he sighted 
in the distance the towers of his ancient home, but, 
mindful of Our Lord's injunction " to salute no man by 
the way," he avoided a parting scene with his mother 
and pressed on to Lisbon. ~£ _ lv ^^^^^A 

There a disappointment awaited him. King John 
refused to allow the distinguished Jesuit who was to 
have accompanied him to leave and he was assigned 
two very inferior substitutes, Father Paul of Camerino 
and Francias Mancias, the latter a deacon of such dull 
intellect that it was doubtful whether it would even be 
possible to admit him to Priests' Orders. The King 
obtained for Xavier, however, Papal briefs, constitut- 
ing him Apostolic Nuncio in the East, while he 
besought Xavier to write to him frequently, giving 
him exact accounts of his progress and requirements. 
Finally, he charged the Purveyor-General of the Fleet 
to supply him with every comfort on the voyage. 
Francis, however, refused to accept anything except 
some warm clothing and a few books of devotion. He 
insisted, too, on cooking his own food and washing his 
own clothes. " So long," he said, " as God gave him 
the use of hands and feet, no one should wait on him 
but himself and there was no occupation so lowly that 
he would not glory in it." 

On the 7th of April, 1541, on his thirty-fifth birthday, 
he sailed for India. 

Sir James Stephen has graphically described his 
spiritual exhilaration during the voyage. " He was 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 95 

going to convert nations of which he knew neither 
the language nor even the names, but his soul was 
oppressed with no misgivings. Worn by incessant 
sickness, with the refuse food of the lowest seaman 
for his diet and the cordage of the ship for his couch, 
he rendered to the diseased services too revolting to 
be described and lived among the dying and profligate, 
the unwearied minister of consolation and peace. In 
the midst of that floating throng, he knew both how to 
create for himself a sacred solitude and how to mix in 
all their pursuits in the free spirit of a man of the world, 
a gentleman and a scholar. With the Viceroy and his 
officers he talked of war, politics and navigation. To 
restrain the common soldiers from gambling he 
invented for their amusement less dangerous pastimes, 
or held the stakes for which they played, that by his 
presence and gay discourse he might at least check the 
excesses which he could not entirely prevent." 

On the 6th of May, 1542, he arrived at Goa, the 
capital of Portuguese India. There he found a convent 
of Franciscans, a fine cathedral and a large number of 
Christian churches. A closer acquaintance with the 
colony revealed to him its seamy side. The Bishop 
though a venerable old man was lethargic. The 
Portuguese settlers, removed from the restraint of public 
opinion and living in an enervating climate, were 
corrupt, their morality differing little from that of the 
surrounding heathen. Xavier lost no time in opening 
a campaign of aggressive missionary effort. Swinging 
a heavy bell in his hand, he passed along the streets of 
the city, calling out to the astonished crowds, " Faith- 
ful Christians, for the love which you bear to Christ, 
send your children and your servants to the Christian 
doctrine." Xavier also frequented the haunts of vice 

g6 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

that he might by his kindness convince men of the 
Divine Love which overshadowed them, while, by 
pungent jests, he sought to show the contemptibleness 
and folly of a life of dissipation. Starched and pompous 
Pharisees were not wanting at Goa to carp at his 
unconventional methods, but he loved the title of 
" Friend of Sinners " too well to be deterred from his 
errands of mercy. " I care little," he said, " for the 
judgment of men and least of all for their judgment 
who decide before they hear and before they under- 
stand." " You, my friends," he said to a group of 
soldiers who hid their cards at his approach, " belong 
to no religious order, nor can you pass your whole days 
in devotion. Amuse yourselves. To you it is not 
forbidden, if you neither cheat, quarrel, nor swear 
when you play." Then, sitting down in their midst, he 
proceeded to challenge one of them to a game of chess. 
After five months at Goa, Xavier set out on a 
mission to the Paravas, a degraded caste who acted as 
divers in the pearl fishery of Manaar. The occupation 
of these men was hard and perilous, yet they derived 
no benefit from it, for the profits of their industry 
were seized by the Moslems who treated them as 
slaves. Ten years before Xavier's arrival they had 
appealed to the Portuguese for protection, which was 
given them on condition of their accepting the Catholic 
faith. Thankful for such easy terms, the Paravas were 
baptised wholesale, but the Portuguese never took any 
further trouble to turn their nominal faith into a reality. 
Xavier resolved to devote himself to their spiritual 
welfare and, taking two interpreters with him, he lived 
in their miserable huts, sharing their diet of rice and 
contenting himself with three hours' sleep out of the 
twenty-four. In four months' time he succeeded in 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 97 

translating the Catechism into the Malabar tongue, 
and having committed it to memory, he summoned the 
inhabitants twice daily for Christian instruction. On 
Sundays he caused the whole population to repeat 
after him the Creed, the Decalogue, the Ave Maria and 
the Lord's Prayer ; afterwards discoursing to them 
upon the meaning and obligations of the Christian 
religion. Xavier also set the Catechism to simple 
music, so that the sound of Christian melody might 
often be heard on this barren coast. 

The charm of his personality no doubt helped him to 
win the goodwill of the natives and contributed towards 
his amazing success. " As to the numbers who become 
Christians," he wrote in 1543, " you may understand 
from this ; that it often happens to me to be hardly 
able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptising ; 
often in a single day I have baptised whole villages. 
Sometimes I have lost my voice altogether with 
repeating again and again the Credo and other forms. 
Doubtless Xavier, like all the Jesuits, laid too exclusive 
stress on the sacrament of baptism, while much of his 
work was superficial and hasty, yet he seems con- 
sistently to have emphasised the obligations of Christian 
morality, inspired by a burning devotion to the 
Incarnate Christ. 

The use Xavier made of children was original and 
certainly daring. "Their hatred for idolatry," he 
writes, " is marvellous. They get into feuds with the 
heathen about it ; and wherever their own parents 
practise it, they reproach them and come off to tell me 
at once. Wherever I hear of an act of idolatrous 
worship, I go to the place, with a large band of these 
children, who very soon load the devil with a greater 
amount of insult and abuse than he has lately received 

98 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

of honour and worship from their parents and acquaint- 
ances." There is indeed something delightfully naive 
about the religious exploits of these juvenile evangelists. 
Finding it impossible to visit all the sick himself, " I 
send round the children," he says, " whom I can trust, 
in my place. They went to the sick persons, assembled 
their families and neighbours, recited the Creed with 
them and encouraged the sufferers to conceive a well- 
founded confidence of their restoration. Then, after all 
this, they recited the prayers of the Church." 

He goes on to deplore the fact that the learned 
Doctors of Paris University do not lay aside their 
studies to become teachers of the heathen ; adding 
characteristically that " many thousands of infidels 
might be made Christians without trouble, if we only 
had men who would seek not their own advantage but 
the things of Jesus Christ." 

Of the Brahmins, Xavier did not form a high opinion. 
"The Brahmins are liars and cheats to the backbone. 
Their whole study is how to deceive most cunningly 
the simplicity of the people. They give out publicly 
that the gods command certain offerings to be made 
to their temples, which offerings are simply the things 
which the Brahmins themselves wish for. . . . They 
eat sumptuous meals to the sound of drums and 
make the ignorant believe that the gods are banqueting." 

When Xavier asked them what their gods enjoined 
them in order to obtain the life of the blessed, theii 
reply was, to abstain from killing cows, and to show 
kindness to the Brahmins who were their worshippers. 

The Paravas themselves were most anxious to know 
what colour Xavier himself imagined the Deity to be. 
" The Indians, being black themselves, believe that 
the gods are black. On this account the great majority 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 99 

of their idols are black as black can be, and, moreover, 
are generally so rubbed over with oil as to smell 
detestably and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly 
and horrible to look at." Such was heathendom as it 
presented itself to the mind of a Jesuit father, in the 
year of grace 1543. 

Let us now take a glimpse into the heart of Xavier 
as, alone on this solitary shore, he endeavours to atone 
for the neglect of his fellow-Christians in Europe. It is 
afforded us by a prayer, dating from the year above- 
named. " O Lord, I beseech Thee, overwhelm me not 
now, in this life, with so much delight : or at least, 
since in Thy boundless goodness Thou dost so over- 
whelm me, take me away to the abode of the blessed. 
For anyone who has once known what it is to taste in 
his soul Thy ineffable sweetness, must of necessity 
think it very bitter to live any longer without seeing 
Thee face to face." 

Much of our knowledge of Xavier 's labours in Asia 
comes to us from his copious letters to the Society at 
home ; letters which convey an impression of his 
affectionateness, buoyancy and common sense. To 
his dull and depressed companion Francias Mancias 
he writes with considerate sympathy for his loneliness 
and ill-success. " Beware of growing weary of your 
work and don't let any kind of disgust weaken you, 
or relax your patience. I entreat you to show con- 
tinual marks of very great love to the whole of the 
people you are among. The consequences will most 
certainly be that they will love you in return ; and if 
you once get to that, the ministry by which you are 
trying to lead them to the knowledge and worship of 
God will find its course more easy and its fruit more 

ioo The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

It is impossible to describe even superficially the 
numerous missions undertaken by Xavier in the 
East. He is said to have founded thirty churches in 
the neighbourhood of Cape Comorin, forty-five settle- 
ments in Travancore, to have spent four months in 
Ceylon, another four months in Malacca, besides 
visiting the islands of the Malay Archipelago and 
spending many months among the cannibals of the 

During his sojourn at Amboyna there arrived a 
hostile fleet of Spanish corsairs. Xavier at once 
boarded the vessels, which he found infected with the 
plague. Day and night he nursed these unfortunate 
pirates who, experiencing so great kindness at his 
hands, sailed away without molesting the islanders. 

The most important enterprise of Xavier was his 
attempted conversion of Japan. Japan had only been 
discovered by Europeans seven years before, but 
Xavier had encountered in Malacca a Japanese gentle- 
man, Yajiro or Angero by name, whom he converted 
to the faith and admitted into the Company of Jesus. 

" I asked this Angero whether he thought, in case I 
accompanied him to Japan, the inhabitants would 
become Christians. He replied that his countrymen 
would not assent instantly to everything they heard 
but would be sure to ask a great many questions as 
to the religion I was introducing and that, above all, 
they would consider whether my actions agreed with 
my words. If I could satisfy them by a consistent 
statement, and give them no cause for finding fault 
with the goodness of my life, then, when the matter 
had been fully examined, they would certainly join 
the flock of Christ, for theirs is a nation which follows 
the guidance of reason." 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits ioi 

After drawing up his famous code of instruction 
for the conduct of missionaries in the East, Xavier 
started for Japan in company with Angero. 

At Cangoxima they laboured with such effect that, 
two hundred years after, when Christianity had been 
extirpated in Japan by persecution, communities of 
Japanese were found in this neighbourhood who still 
preserved with reverence the Christian formularies. 

Amid the snows of winter, Xavier, carrying only 
the vessels necessary for the celebration of Mass, made 
his way through dense forests and over steep mountains 
to Meaco, the capital of the country ; but, finding the 
city in a state of siege, was obliged to retrace his 
steps. No disappointments, how T ever, dulled his en- 
thusiasm, or shook his confidence in the Japanese 
character. " The Japanese surpass in goodness any 
of the nations lately discovered. They are of a kindly 
disposition, and not at all given to cheating. Honour 
with them is placed above everything else. There are 
a great many poor among them, but poverty is not 
considered a disgrace. They are sparing and frugal 
in eating, but not in drink. They abhor dice and 
gaming and seldom sw r ear. Most of them can read and 
this is a great help to them in the understanding of 
our prayers. They have not more than one wife. 
They are wonderfully inclined to all that is good and 
honest and have an extreme eagerness to learn." As 
in India he was displeased with the native priests and 
says of them with some amusement, " that though 
they take money from everybody by way of alms, they 
themselves never give anything to any one." 

Xavier's early experiences in Japan and his desire 
to convert its Rulers led him to make the most of his 
position as an accredited representative of the King of 

102 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Portugal. Magnificently arrayed in ecclesiastical 
vestments and accompanied by Portuguese sailors and 
merchants, he visited the Court of the King of Bungo. 
This sovereign at once manifested his good will and 
conversions among his subjects speedily followed, the 
Japanese eagerly anticipating commercial advantages 
from their change of faith. But the Bonzes, or native 
priests, proved a stumbling-block in the way of success. 

One of these, Fucarandono by name, asked Xavier 
whether he remembered seeing him before. " Cer- 
tainly not," replied Xavier, " for I have never seen you 
before." Fucarandono expressed surprise and asked 
whether it was possible that he could have forgotten 
selling him fifty picos of silk at Frenojamo 1500 years 
previously. That Xavier should have forgotten this 
incident, told heavily against him, for the Japanese, 
believing in the transmigration of souls, held that it 
was a reward of virtue to remember what had passed 
in a previous state of existence and a mark of wicked- 
ness to forget it. Public feeling now ran high against 
Xavier, and had it not been for the chivalrous support 
rendered him by the Portuguese sailors and merchants 
he would probably have attained the crown of martyr- 
dom. The Japanese, however, came to the conclusion 
that there must really be something in a religion which 
could prompt " rich men of the world to risk their 
property and lives " in the service of their spiritual 

Nevertheless, Xavier found it expedient to leave 
Japan within a few days, exhorting the King on his 
departure to remember the shortness of life, the 
certainty of Judgment and the greatness of the grace 
of God. 

The last enterprise of Xavier was his attempted 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 103 

conversion of China. His friend Angero had already 
been martyred in China, and Xavier, proceeding in a 
pirate ship to the island of San Chan, at the mouth of 
the Canton River, there laid down his own life. 

' Stretched on the naked beach," says Sir James 
Stephen, " with the cold blasts of a Chinese winter 
aggravating his pains, he contended alone with the 
agonies of a fever which wasted his vital powers. In 
the cold collapse of death, his features were for a 
few moments irradiated as with the first beams of 
approaching glory. He raised himself on his crucifix, 
and exclaiming, ' In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted, 
let me never be confounded,' he bowed his head and 

Ignatius had already nominated him as his successor, 
but the letter announcing his appointment never 
reached him. 

" An ascetic and mystic," says Mr. Jayne, " to 
whom things spiritual were more real than the visible 
world, Xavier had the strong common sense which 
distinguished the Spanish Mystics, St. Theresa and 
Raymond Lull." As an organiser he was supreme ; 
and though the claim of Jesuit chroniclers that he 
converted 700,000 persons to the faith may be dis- 
missed as absurd, he may fairly be regarded as the 
most effective missionary since St. Paul. He in- 
augurated missionary enterprise from India to Japan, 
and wherever he preached he left behind him an 
organised Christian community. His personality was 
so attractive that he endeared himself even to the 
pirates and bravos with whom on his voyages he was 
forced to consort. It cannot be denied that, despite 
his humanity, he sanctioned the persecution of 
Nestorians and Jews, misunderstood Oriental religions 

104 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

and was disastrously successful in converting the 
Portuguese Government at Goa into a proselytising 
agency. His interference with politics was an evil 
precedent, fraught with penal consequences for his 
successors ; while his knowledge of Oriental languages 
was so imperfect as to render much of his labour 

The character of Xavier has rarely been surpassed 
in the annals of Christian history for its daring and 
humility, its sweetness and its strength. Even after 
four centuries we are compelled to think of him as 

" the choir invisible 
Of those immortal dead who live again 
In minds made better by their presence : live 
In pulses stirred to generosity, 
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn 
For miserable aims that end with self, 
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, 
And with their mild persistence urge man's search 
To vaster issues." 

Though Jesuit figures are rarely to be trusted, 
there is no doubt that after Xavier's death Christianity 
in Japan made enormous strides, obtaining the support 
of the highest civil power. Professor Kikuchi states 
that in 1595 there were 137 Jesuits in the country, 
with 300,000 converts, among them seventeen feudal 
chiefs and even a few of the native priests. But 
through the indiscreet meddling of the Jesuits and 
Franciscans with commerce and politics, Hideyoshi, 
the powerful Ruler of Japan, became incensed against 
all Christians and, after a fierce persecution endured 
by the fathers with immense heroism, they were 
expelled from the country. In India, a field at first 
less promising, the work of Xavier was far more 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 105 

lasting. By 1565 there were 300,000 new converts 
between Goa and Cape Comorin ; and Jerome Xavier, 
a nephew of Francis, held a post of importance at the 
Court of Akbar, three princes of this great Mogul 
sovereign's house receiving Christian baptism. In 1621, 
a Jesuit College was founded at Agra and a station 
at Patna. Xavier's followers made too great con- 
cessions to Hindoo belief and practice, adopting 
Brahmin costume and recognising the social principle 
of caste. In this evil precedent they were soon followed 
by some of the Protestant missionaries, who assembled 
their native converts for worship in separate establish- 
ments. Thus in India, as in Europe, the fatal Jesuit 
weakness for compromise made itself felt and, while 
it helps to account for a striking temporary success, it 
laid the seeds of inevitable decadence and deterioration. 
We must now turn our qjqs from the East to the 
West, from the ancient civilisations of India to the 
untutored tribes of North America. In the early days 
of the seventeenth century the French nation had 
embarked on a career of conquest and civilisation 
amongst the Indians of Canada. With them religion 
and commerce went hand in hand, with the consequence 
that the Jesuit Fathers entered the country with the 
backing and support of the civil authority. When 
Champlain, the French Governor of Quebec, intro- 
duced the followers of Loyola to the Indians of the 
Huron he did so in these words : " These are our 
fathers. We love them more than we love ourselves. 
The whole French nation honours them. They do 
not go among you for your furs. They have left their 
friends and their country to show you the way to 
heaven. If you love the French, as you say you love 
them, then love and honour these our fathers." 


106 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

The Jesuits proved themselves worthy of this 
introduction. With incredible devotion and silent 
endurance, they watered Canada with their blood, 
laying down their lives, not for their friends, but for a 
cruel and ungrateful race. The Indians among whom 
the Jesuit fathers lived were not the Indians of Long- 
fellow's Hiawatha. They were wild and superstitious 
savages. Their religion consisted of fetish worship, 
or of gods no better than themselves. Their belief in 
the Great Spirit only appeared after long contact 
with white men ; even then it was generally materialised 
and but thinly connected with morality. Only men 
of tender heart and iron will, and the Jesuits were 
both, would have persevered with the task of Indian 
Evangelisation for a period of almost forty years. 

The first Jesuit station in Canada was that of 
Notre Dame des Anges at Quebec. The founder was 
Paul le Jeune, who left France for the New World in 
April, 1632. The six fathers who formed this mission- 
ary station lived in a one-storied building on the banks 
of the St. Charles. Their house was built of planks 
plastered with mud and thatched with long grass. 
Their furniture was primitive and their chapel only 
ornamented by a sheet, upon which were glued some 
coarse religious engravings. Above the altar was the 
image of a Dove, representing the presence of the 
Holy Spirit with their undertaking, portraits of 
Loyola and Xavier and images of the Virgin. Yet 
within these rude walls was nourished an enthusiasm 
which does credit to human nature and a faith which 
refused to accept defeat. The workmen employed by 
the fathers were forced to hear Mass daily and an 
exhortation on Sunday. The Jesuits themselves 
preached, catechised, heard confessions at the Fort, 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 107 

worked with the spade and struggled with the problem 
of native languages. The difficulty of acquiring the 
latter correctly soon drove Father le Jeune into the 
wilderness. He came rapidly to the conclusion that 
the only sure way to become proficient in the Algon- 
quin tongue was to accompany the Indians on their 
winter hunting expeditions. The Indians on their 
part, thinking to benefit by the provisions which the 
Christian father would bring with him, asked him to 
accompany them, and in the latter part of October 
he set out. 

As they marched through the forests, Le Jeune 
found the black trunks of the pine trees spattered with 
snow, the waters frozen and the woods silent as the 
grave. During the day the Indians hunted the beaver 
and porcupine, or chased the moose and caribou. 
At night nineteen human beings besides animals 
crowded and jostled one another in the tiny wigwam. 
Le Jeune sums up the inconvenience of their lodging 
under the heads of cold, heat, smoke and dogs. Some- 
times he would escape from this filthy den to read his 
Breviary in peace by the light of the freezing moon. 

One of the Indians who acted as his tutor palmed 
off on him the foulest words of the language as the 
equivalent of spiritual terms. Consequently, when he 
sought to explain to his assembled hearers the doctrines 
of the Christian faith, he was interrupted by peals of 
laughter from irreverent children and squaws. 

At other times they would tell him that his head 
was like a pumpkin and his beard like a rabbit's. 
Sometimes their banter was so brutal and savage 
that, afraid of exasperating them beyond endurance, 
he would pass whole days without uttering a word. 
The whole party suffered from insufficient food and 

io8 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

were sometimes on the verge of starvation. On 
Christmas Eve his diary contains the following entry : 
" The Lord gave us for our supper a large porcupine, 
and also a rabbit. It was not much, it is true, for 
nineteen persons : but the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph 
her glorious spouse were not so well treated on this 
very day in the stable of Bethlehem." 

At the beginning of April the party returned to 
Quebec, and at three in the morning the Fathers of 
Notre Dame des Anges, springing hastily from their 
beds, embraced their Superior with words of welcome 
and of thankfulness. 

Le Jeune's expedition with the Algonquin Indians 
led to a revolution in the Jesuit plan of campaign. 
Le Jeune saw that it was waste of energy to spend 
time on the conversion of wandering tribes ; and that 
it would be far more profitable to go further "West, to 
the stationary tribe of the Hurons, near the great 
lake of that name. 

The father who undertook the hazardous mission, 
which involved travelling 900 miles by canoe, was 
Jean de Brebeuf. A tall, powerful man of splendid 
physique, Brebeuf was the descendant of a distin- 
guished Norman family and one of the ablest mis- 
sionaries of the Society. He was, too, a master of the 
Huron language, and it is largely from his missionary 
reports that our information of this phase of Canadian 
history is derived. With two companions, he set out 
for Lake Huron in company with a band of Indians 
returning from their annual pilgrimage to Quebec, 
where they exchanged their furs and tobacco for 
European commodities. After a tiring and adventurous 
journey, in which the priests got temporarily separated 
from one another, they arrived at their destination 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 109 

and were given a hospitable reception. The Indians 
built them a house and here they received enquirers 
and expounded the Christian faith. Their clock 
greatly excited the curiosity of the Hurons and 
they would sit in expectant silence for long periods 
waiting for it to strike. They wanted to know what 
it ate, and what it said when it struck. " When he 
strikes twelve times," replied Brebeuf, "he says, 'put 
on the kettle ' ; when he strikes four times, he says 
' get up, and go home.' " Profiting by this instruction 
the Hurons came daily to share the father's tea at 
noon, but always left promptly at four o'clock. In 
this way, and by teaching the Hurons to build more 
scientific forts, the Jesuits gained the confidence of 
the natives, but, even with these helps, they found 
Evangelisation a difficult matter. When the fathers 
drew vivid pictures of heaven and hell and asked the 
Hurons which they preferred, they gave the disconcerting- 
answer, " I wish to go where my relations and ancestors 
have gone ; heaven is a good place for Frenchmen, 
but I wish to be among Indians." When they asked 
Brebeuf whether there was hunting in heaven or war, 
and he replied in the negative, they concluded it to be 
a most undesirable place of residence, saying, "It is 
not good to be lazy." Again the Indians found the 
spiritual requirements of the fathers too exacting. 
Monogamy, the abandonment of superstitious feasts 
and the observance of the Ten Commandments seemed 
an alarming price to pay for a doubtful future and a 
present robbed of its customary enjoyments. 

Further difficulties were caused by a humpbacked 
sorcerer and by a terrible outbreak of smallpox. 
The latter calamity, it is true, afforded a golden 
opportunity to the fathers to commend their religious 

no The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

teachings by their efforts to relieve bodily distress. 
No house was left unvisited and in the depth of winter 
the fathers tramped from village to village, adminis- 
tering simple preparations of senna, speaking kind 
words to groups of dejected Indians sitting silent around 
their fires, and baptising, wherever possible, the 
infants and the dying. Once they nearly lost their 
lives, a midnight council of chiefs attributing the 
cause of the disease to their Christian incantations ; 
but they lived this down and, in the course of the next 
few years, made considerable progress amongst the 
Hurons. Fifteen years after their arrival, however, a 
terrible disaster led to the destruction of the whole 

In 1649, a thousand Iroquois Indians suddenly 
took the warpath and, descending upon the more 
timid Hurons, devasted their settlements, torturing 
and slaying them with the utmost barbarity. Brebeuf 
himself was bound to a stake, but his composure 
remained unruffled, and he continued to exhort his 
fellow captives to patience and endurance. After 
mutilating him, they hung round his neck a collar 
made of red-hot hatchets, and poured boiling water 
over him, sajing, " We baptise you, that you may be 
happy in heaven, for nobody can be saved without a 
good baptism." Others cut strips from his flesh, ex- 
claiming, " You told us that the more one suffers on 
earth, the happier he is in heaven." Finally they 
drank the blood of the heroic father that, by so doing, 
they might inherit a portion of his indomitable courage. 
They could have paid him no higher compliment. Thus 
died Jean de Brebeuf, the founder of the Huron Mission. 

The story of one other Jesuit father must be told, 
for Christian history has few nobler episodes than the 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits in 

life of Isaac Jogues. Jogues was born in Orleans in 
1607, and joined the Canadian Mission at the age of 
thirty-two. The delicate mould of his features indicated 
a refined and thoughtful nature. Constitutionally 
timid, with a sensitive conscience, " he knew, when 
acting under orders, neither hesitation nor fear." An 
accomplished scholar, he might have seemed out of 
place as a pioneer missionary among savage tribes ; 
yet as an athlete he could outrun the Indians, while 
his spiritual fire and endurance seem to have known 
no limits. His story is briefly as follows : — 

He was sent by his Superior as missionary to the 
tobacco nation. Two years later he passed on to Lake 
Superior, where he preached to the O jib ways and 
Algonquins. A year later, the mission being short of 
clothing and other necessaries, he returned eastward 
for supplies. Suddenly his party was fiercely attacked 
by Iroquois Indians. Jogues sprang into the bul- 
rushes, and could have escaped, but, seeing his friend 
Goupil and some of his converts captured, he came out 
of his hiding-place and gave himself up. When his 
companion was attacked, Jogues threw himself upon 
his neck, but was dragged away and beaten with clubs. 
Later, he was made to march every day with his 
conquerors, being subject to every indignity on the 
road. His left thumb was cut off, and in one town he 
was suspended by his wrists for two hours from two 
poles, until, on the point of swooning, his cords were 
cut by a compassionate Indian. At this town four 
Huron prisoners were brought in, and Jogues, despite 
his pain and exhaustion, undertook their conversion. 
An ear of green corn being flung to him for food, he 
discovered on its husks a few drops of dew, and with 
these baptised his converts. Everywhere on the 

112 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

journey he baptised dying infants, while his friend 
Goupil taught children to make the sign of the Cross. 
Soon after Goupil was slain by the hatchet of an 
Indian and Jogues, in daily expectation of death, was 
marched from place to place, through gloomy forests, 
the ground covered with snow and the rocks with 
icicles. Yet he spent hours in silent prayer and 
carved the name of Jesus on the trees under which 
they halted. 

At last deliverance came. Reaching a trading 
station on the Hudson, he was kindly treated by the 
Dutch merchants, who offered him a free passage to 
Bordeaux. Jogues thanked them, but, to their 
surprise, asked for a night's delay to consider the 
matter and lay it before God in prayer. He was fearful 
lest self-love might, at this crisis of his fate, beguile 
him from his duty. After considering the matter, 
however, in all its bearings, he decided to leave ; his 
French companions being now all dead. On January 
5th, 1644, he reached the Jesuit College at Rennes. 
The Jesuit letters from Canada were at this time the 
favourite reading of religious society in France, from 
the Court downwards. When, therefore, Jogues 
knocked at the door of the Breton College, the Rector, 
though putting on his vestments to say Mass, post- 
poned service in order to hear the latest news from 
Canada. Ignorant of the character of his visitor, the 
Rector began to question him about the affairs of the 
mission and ended by asking him if he knew Father 
Jogues ? "I know him very well," was the reply. 
" The Iroquois have taken him," pursued the Rector, 
"is he dead ? Have they murdered him ? " " No," 
answered Jogues, " he is alive and at liberty, and I am 
he." And he fell on his knees to ask his Superior's 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 113 

blessing. " That night," says the historian, " was a 
night of jubilation and thanksgiving in the College of 

But Jogues' witness to the faith was not yet com- 
plete. The following spring he sailed again for Canada 
and was sent on a special mission to the Mohawk 
Indians. He went in a twofold capacity : as an 
ambassador on behalf of the French Government, to 
hold the Mohawks to a Treaty of Peace which they had 
made, and as a simple priest to found the mission of the 
martyrs among the Mohawk tribe. The Mohawks were 
disposed to peace, but the fierce Algonquins were 
determined on war. After discharging his diplomatic 
duties, and reporting the results at Montreal, Jogues 
resumed his missionary labours among the Indians. 
Soon afterwards he was surrounded by a savage crowd 
who cut strips of flesh from his back and arms, exclaim- 
ing, " let us see if this white flesh is the flesh of a 
spirit " (oki). " I am a man like yourselves," replied 
Jogues, " but I do not fear death or torture." In the 
evening it was the 18th of October, Jogues was sitting 
in a lodge, when an Indian entered and summoned 
him to a feast. To have refused would have been 
considered discourteous. Following the Indian, there- 
fore, he entered the lodge of the Bear chief. As he 
stooped to pass in through the low entrance an 
Indian concealed within struck him with a hatchet. 
Another Indian tried to save him by holding out his 
arm to ward off the attack, but at a second blow Jogues 
fell dead at his feet. 

The death of Jogues was the beginning of the end of 
the Jesuit mission in Canada. The causes of failure 
were not internal, " the guns and tomahawks of the 
Indians were the ruin of their hopes." Could the 

114 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Jesuits but have tamed these barbarous savages they 
would have taught them agriculture, arrested their 
decrease of population, imparted to them their own 
self-sacrificing faith and have powerfully assisted in 
the consolidation of the French Empire in Northern 
America. They would also have been the champions of 
absolutism in Church and State and the march of 
liberty and freedom would have been delayed. Their 
failure facilitated the triumph of English institutions 
and hastened the dawn of a less romantic but saner 

In the words of Parkman, " The Providence of God 
seemed in their eyes dark and inexplicable ; but from 
the standpoint of liberty that Providence is clear as 
the sun at noon. Meanwhile, let those who have 
prevailed yield due honour to the defeated. Their 
virtues shine amidst the rubble of error, like diamonds 
and gold in the gravel of the torrent." 

" The best history," says Walter Bagehot, " is like 
the art of Rembrandt, it casts a vivid light on certain 
selected causes, on those which were best and greatest ; 
it leaves all the rest in shadow and unseen." It is in 
the endeavour to follow this maxim that we have made 
no attempt to cover the vast field of Jesuit missionary 
enterprise, but have confined our attention to the 
labours of Xavier in the East, and the Jesuits in 
Canada. A few statements in regard to Jesuit activities 
in China and Paraguay must conclude our imperfect 
survey of this great subject. 

In China the Jesuits pursued an entirely different 
policy to that which they had employed in Japan. The 
Apostle of China, Matteo Ricci, was an Italian Jesuit 
of great talent, nor are there many European names 
better known than his to Chinese scholars of to-day. 

The Foreign Missions of the Jesuits 115 

Ricci arrived in China in 1582 and at once recognised 
the literary character of Chinese civilisation. He and 
his companions adopted the dress of the Chinese 
literati and acquired the manners of Chinese gentle- 
men. Professing great respect for the teaching of 
Confucius, this worthy father won by his prudence 
and courtesy the goodwill of the Chinese people and 
especially of the ruling classes. The Jesuits excited 
the curiosity of the learned by their globes, maps and 
clocks ; and of Ricci it has been said that " he usually 
began with mathematics and ended with religion ; his 
scientific endowments procuring respect for his religious 
doctrines." Ricci's published writings in Chinese 
cover a wide selection of subjects, while his knowledge 
of the Chinese language and character seems to have 
been profound. The attacks made on him at a later 
period by his co-religionists in Europe were chiefly 
owing to the fact that, while he attacked Buddhism, he 
treated Confucianism with such sympathy that his 
concessions seemed to disintegrate the foundations of 
the Christian faith. Ricci was a man of fine character, 
and his death in 1610 was caused by his unsparing 
labours, coupled with the fatigues incident to the 
elaborate customs of Chinese hospitality. Many 
Mandarins were converted by the Jesuits ; a fraternity 
of the Blessed Virgin founded at Pekin in 1605 was 
followed by a Church in Nankin ; while in 1616 
churches with large congregations were in existence in 
five provinces of the Chinese Empire. 

Even more important was Jesuit propaganda in 
South America. The missions of the Society in 
Paraguay won the admiration not only of the religious 
but of philosophers and men of the world. The 
plan of the fathers in this country was to separate 

n6 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

the natives from the Spaniards, whose influence was 
hostile to Christian morality and to form an impcrium 
in imperio. They taught the natives " to sow and 
reap, to plant trees and build houses, to read and sing." 
They charmed them by their gorgeous ritual and by 
the sentimentality of their theology. They taught 
them songs about the crucified Son of God, " Whose 
head droops like the stalk of yellow corn." Yet, though 
the Jesuit community in Paraguay was one of the chief 
glories of the Society, though it refined and elevated 
the native Indian, as well as making him childishly 
happy and content ; yet it failed to make him either a 
full-grown man or a moral and consistent Christian. 
Thus it was easily swept away by the intolerance of 
the Spanish Government, which resented its champion- 
ship of the rights of the slave and its paternal interest 
in the happiness of a subject race. 

The ultimate failure of the Jesuits in Paraguay was, 
therefore, a failure in the cause of justice and righteous- 
ness, and proves that, even when unsuccessful, the 
Society was animated in its missionary labours by a 
spirit of Christian benevolence and disinterested 

If the Jesuits could not achieve success, they at least 
deserved it, and their failures in distant lands are far 
more creditable to the character of the Society than 
their noisier triumphs in European countries. 

" Hopes have precarious life ; 
But faithfulness can feed on suffering 
And knows no disappointment." 



Unlike Islam, the Christian Religion is based upon a 
separation between the secular and spiritual authority ; 
though it involves the slow permeation of the secular 
by the spiritual, " a little leaven leavening the whole 

Our Lord Himself laid down the principle governing 
the mutual relations of Church and State when He said : 
" Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's ; 
and unto God the things which are God's " ; and, 
when the martyrs refused to offer sacrifices to Caesar, 
they laid the foundation of the modern conception of 
spiritual freedom. 

But the Western Church which through the earlier 
Middle Ages contended boldly for spiritual independ- 
ence became in time thoroughly secularised. We can 
trace this process of secularisation quite clearly, 
through Innocent III and Boniface VIII to Leo X and 
the Popes of the Renaissance. By the time of Loyola 
it was complete. 

" Time was," said a speaker at the Council of Basle, 
" when I thought it well that the secular should be 
completely separated from the spiritual power. But I 
have since been taught that virtue apart from power 
is ridiculous ; and that the Pope, without the Church's 
patrimony, presents to us nothing but a servant of 


Ii8 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

kings and princes." The Popes of the Renaissance 
were pre-eminently secular princes, consequently they 
lost their spiritual hold upon the conscience of Christen- 
dom while, on the other hand, they were incapable of 
maintaining their position as temporal monarchs. " At 
the time," says Creighton, " when the security of the 
Papacy seemed greatest, when it had its roots most 
firmly in material interests, it was suddenly called upon 
to justify its immemorial position." 

At the Council of Constance (1414 to 1418) the 
Church endeavoured to reform herself from within. 
This attempt broke down because when the question 
arose as to whether the Council should carry out the 
needed reforms first, or elect the Pope first, it decided 
on the latter course and no sooner was Martin V elected 
than he dismissed the assembly. The absolutist theory 
of Church Government thus triumphed over the Consti- 
tutional, but was followed only a century later by 
disunion and disruption. 

By the time of Loyola, the demand for a General 
Council had again revived and was ultimately forced 
upon the Popes, greatly against their will, by the 
Emperor Charles V. It was clear to that monarch 
that something must be done at once to conciliate 
moderate opinion and to avert a universal revolt 
of the northern nations from Catholicism. It was no 
longer possible to blink the situation, the political 
consequences of Papal corruption compelled a decision. 
Reuchlin and Erasmus had opened to thoughtful men 
the true text of the Holy Scriptures, the criticism of 
Filelfo had exposed the False Decretals upon which 
the Papal pretensions were based, while the universal 
rise of the national spirit made men refuse subservience 
to a Church which trampled upon their legitimate 

The Jesuits in Europe 1 19 

aspirations and fought the world with its own 

Yet it was not until the Pontificate of Paul III (1534 
to 1549) tnat tne Roman Curia realised the vital 
seriousness of the situation ; and from Paul's occupa- 
tion of the Papal see must we date the Catholic 
Reaction in which the Jesuits took so prominent a 
part. It was Paul III who promoted the Catholic 
Reformers Contarini, Pole, Morone and Caraffa to the 
Cardinalate, approved the organisation of the Company 
of Jesus in 1540, introduced the Inquisition into Italy 
in 1542, established the Index in 1543 and opened the 
Council of Trent in 1545. 

The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563) marks a new 
phase of Papal development and is one of the out- 
standing landmarks of ecclesiastical history. It 
sanctioned departures from Catholic practice as vital 
and as revolutionary as those introduced by Luther 
and Melancthon ; it dealt a death-blow to Episcopal 
authority and established the Jesuits as the inspired 
interpreters of Papal policy, thus inaugurating an era 
of ecclesiastical tyranny, subterfuge and persecution. 

It is not to be denied that the Council of Trent 
initiated also spiritual reforms of great and lasting 
value. Under the influence of Carlo Borromeo, the 
saintly Archbishop of Milan, it reformed many abuses 
and drew up the famous Tridentine Catechism ; but it 
also crystallised into actual dogma many questionable 
and hitherto unauthorised beliefs of the Mediaeval 
Church . 

From a purely constitutional point of view, the 
Council was a sham from beginning to end. The Popes 
packed the Council with innumerable Italian bishops, 
voting exactly as they were instructed to vote by the 

120 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

supreme pontiff, who made the best terms he could for 
himself with each European sovereign separately by 
secret diplomacy. Thus it was said by Father Sarpi 
that, at the Council of Trent, "the Holy Ghost had a 
way of arriving in the Spanish Ambassador's mail bag." 

The Jesuit who acted as chief Papal adviser at the 
Council was Diego Lainez, who succeeded Loyola as 
General in 1558. He supported the Pope in his diplo- 
matic methods of settling disputes and, in order to 
destroy the efforts of the reforming cardinals to find 
a via media on Luther's doctrine of justification by 
faith only, threw over the predestinarian theology of 
St. Augustine with which it was associated and pro- 
claimed the doctrine of human free will. 

The influence of Lainez on the Society of Jesus 
resembled that of Brother Elias on the Order of 
St. Francis. He introduced a still more despotic 
element of government, altering the original con- 
stitutions of Loyola ; he also adopted a more 
worldly tone. He refused to make choir offices and 
daily services obligatory on members of the Society, 
while he extended its educational activities and 
increased its hold on those in high places. He was also 
far less scrupulous than Loyola, a type of the second 
generation of Jesuits whose conduct lends an element 
of justification to the term " Jesuitical," as synonymous 
with subtle and underhand methods of dealing. He 
made the welfare of humanity subsidiary to the aims 
and interests of the Society ; but his energy was such 
that when he died, in 1564, the Company of Jesus had 
increased to eighteen provinces, and possessed no less 
than 130 colleges. 

But it was under the Neapolitan, Claude Aquaviva, 
5th General, 1581 to 1615, that the Society reached its 

The Jesuits in Europe 12 1 

maximum of influence and began at the same time to 
acquire a sinister reputation for its interference with 
questions of politics and government. In this matter 
exaggeration is to be deprecated. The majority of the 
Jesuits were exclusively devoted to education and the 
spiritual life, but the exceptions were numerous and 
they counted among them the leaders of the Society. 
English readers are familiar with this phase of Jesuit 
activity, not only from the biassed pages of West- 
ward Ho ! ; but from the more sympathetic pre- 
sentation of it in Esmond and John Inglesant. In 
England, the Jesuits plotted against Queen Elizabeth 
and in France against Henri IV; the Revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes is also to be attributed to their 
machinations. The Regent of the Jesuit College at 
Treves gave his blessing to Balthasar Gerard, the 
assassin of William the Silent ; in Venice they 
were expelled for plotting against the independence 
of the Republic. Even Carlo Borromeo and S. Theresa 
distrusted them ; Sarpi declared that the sure 
sign of being right was to be in contradiction to a 
Jesuit ; and that St. Peter, directed by a Jesuit 
confessor, might have arrived at denying Christ without 

The best commentary on the political bias of the 
Jesuits is perhaps to be found in our own country, in 
the career of that robust arch-plotter, Robert Parsons, 
1546 to 1610. 

Robert Parsons was born at Nether Stowey in 
Somerset, of good yeoman stock. Educated at Oxford, 
he became at an early age Bursar of Balliol College, 
where he showed a leaning towards Calvinistic theology. 
During a tour in Belgium he came under the influence 
of a Jesuit father and, passing through the Spiritual 

122 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

Exercises at Louvain, was received into the Company of 
Jesus. In 1579, when it was decided to found a Jesuit 
mission in England, Parsons, on account of his versa- 
tility and indomitable will, was appointed its first 

He was accompanied by the saintly Edward 
Campion, a man of great spirituality and thoroughly 
loyal to his native country. Unfortunately for him, 
the English Government regarded all Jesuits as agents 
of Philip II of Spain and consequently as traitors, 
subject to torture and the gallows. Campion was 
betrayed by a spy, who afterwards asked for and 
received his forgiveness ; and suffered for his faith at 
Tyburn. Parsons the real plotter, after a temporary 
residence with the Shelley family in Sussex, took flight 
to the Continent. 

From this time until his death, all Parsons' energies 
were devoted to the overthrow of Elizabeth and the 
establishment of a Spanish dynasty in England. The 
average Roman Catholic in this country was perfectly 
loyal to the Crown, but Parsons persistently represented 
to the Pope that they were not and did his utmost to 
prevent the loyal monastic Orders from obtaining any 
influence in England. He even obtained the appoint- 
ment of an Archpriest, who should exercise authority 
over the Roman Clergy in England in the interests of 
the Jesuits. 

Cardinal Bellarmine, the ablest of Jesuit theologians, 
maintained, in opposition to Elizabeth's claim to 
be " Supreme Governor," that the Pope had the 
right of changing the Government. This theory 
Parsons consistently adopted, and stoutly maintained. 
When, in 1587, Sir William Stanley, commanding the 
English troops in Holland, betrayed the city of 

The Jesuits in Europe 123 

Deventer to the Spaniards, Parsons wrote a treatise 
justifying this abominable treason and maintaining 
that all English Catholics were " bound, upon pain of 
damnation, to do the like." Parsons, indeed, com- 
pletely identified himself with the Spanish Govern- 
ment's political designs upon England. He founded 
numerous Jesuit seminaries in Spain to further these 
designs and used his powers as Rector of the English 
College at Rome with the same object in view. In the 
words of Mr. Taunton, " The one hope of regaining 
England was, in Parsons' eyes, not the patient toil 
and blood of missionaries but the armed intervention 
of Spain." 

Two of his pamphlets had an immense but also a 
most curious success. In The book of the Succession 
he appealed to the people, asserting that they had the 
right to dethrone their sovereign whose religion was of 
more importance than his hereditary claims. By Act 
of Parliament it was made treasonable to possess a 
copy of this pamphlet ; but, by one of the ironies of 
history, it was afterwards used by the Puritans to 
justify the execution of Charles I. Parsons also 
published a work entitled A Memorial for the Refor- 
mation in England, in which he demanded the restora- 
tion of the confiscated abbey lands and urged the 
setting up of the Inquisition in England, though 
the name Inquisition was carefully avoided. This 
pamphlet exercised great influence on the mind of 
James II and determined the direction of his eccle- 
siastical policy in Great Britain. 

Yet Parsons lived to see all his grandiose schemes 
for the conversion of England fail. They failed 
because of the inherent loyalty of Englishmen to the 
Crown and because they distrusted a religion which 

124 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

came to them disfigured in the garb of politics and 
through a man devoid of every honest scruple. Even 
the Pope at last threw Parsons over, for he found that 
in his dealings with him Parsons was no more to be 
trusted than in his dealings with heretics. He was 
particularly enraged with him for throwing dust into 
his eyes by misrepresenting the majority of English 
Catholics as disloyal to the throne, for this statement 
had led him to pursue a policy hopeless from the first. 

Those who wish to understand Parsons should 
study his portrait, for his is a face which tells its own 
story. Big, burly and dark, his piercing eye gives the 
impression of subtlety. His smile is said to have been 
attractive, but in moments of anger his whole counten- 
ance was terrible and alarming. His mouth indicates 
a grim humour which could easily turn to biting 
sarcasm. His massive chin suggests great tenacity of 
purpose, while his powerful forehead marks him out 
as a man of high mental attainments and a born 
leader of men. Indefatigable, astute and thorough in 
all that he undertook, his energy was worthy of a 
better cause and his patience of a greater success. His 
favourite text is said to have been, " Let us not be 
weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if 
we faint not." 

We have seen that Parsons was not the only type of 
English Jesuit that the Society comprised men of 
purely spiritual aims, like Edward Campion, ready to 
pour out their blood to save England from apostasy. 
Half-way between these two types stands Henry 
Garnett, notorious for his connection with Gunpowder 
Plot. Henry Garnett, the son of a Nottingham 
schoolmaster, was educated at Winchester and studied 
law in London. He became afterwards the intimate 

The Jesuits in Europe 125 

friend of Cardinal Bellarmine and acquired a great 
reputation for his varied learning. The celebrated 
lawyer Coke described him as a " man grave, discreet, 
wise, and learned and of excellent ornament both of 
nature and art ; and one that, if he will, may do His 
Majesty as much good service as any subject I know of 
in England." If the service which Garnett afterwards 
rendered was not such as Coke hoped for, at any rate 
his brain and pen were never idle. He supervised the 
Jesuit Mission for eighteen years with such success 
that its members increased from three to forty during 
his rule. His work was attended by many dangers and 
carried on under many aliases and disguises. He 
ministered to his fellow religionists in scattered country 
houses and visited and consoled them in prison. His 
name, however, is chiefly connected with his theory of 
equivocation and with the attempt to blow up the 
Houses of Parliament. 

The Act of the English Government which led to 
Gunpowder Plot was a declaration issued in February, 
1604, which permitted lay Catholics to remain in 
England, but banished all priests. A month later, 
Catesby and Winter, both friends of Garnett, as 
also was Guy Fawkes, originated the treason. In 
June, Catesby propounded to Garnett the following 
question of conscience : " Is it lawful to kill innocent 
persons together with the guilty ? " The case was 
supposed to be that of a siege and Garnett declared it 
to be lawful. Later, Father Green way revealed to 
Garnett the details of the plot. After this, Garnett, 
now an accessory, withdrew in part from Catesby 's 
conspiracy, but took no steps to acquaint the Govern- 
ment with the treason. Knowing that it was the 
intention of the conspirators to blow up Parliament, 

126 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

he left London for a pilgrimage to the well of St. 
Winifred, " for his health, and to shake off this business 
about London." When Catesby's servant brought 
him news of the failure of the plot, he wrote to the 
Government, proclaiming his innocence, " with the 
most solemn oaths " and " as one who hopeth for 
everlasting salvation." After being hidden in close 
confinement at Hindlip Hall, near Worcester, he 
eventually gave himself up and was imprisoned in 
London. He was well treated and, by the King's 
express orders, not allowed to be tortured. 

Of the value of his evidence we can judge from the 
following : He denied having been at certain houses, 
having held conversations with a certain Oldcorne 
and having written a certain letter to Father Green- 
way ; protesting on his salvation and priesthood that 
what he said was true. But, when all these points 
had been proved against him, he freely admitted them, 
saying, " that he might lawfully deny it as he did 
till they were able to prove it, for no man is bound to 
charge himself till he is convicted." Plausible as is 
this excuse, it is obvious that it was impossible to 
place confidence in a man who made truth a matter 
of expediency ; and to whom solemn oaths and 
attestations were mere " scraps of paper," unless the 
contrary to them could be proved. There is a clear 
reference to the case of Garnett, under his well-known 
alias of Farmer, and to his equivocation in the second 
act of " Macbeth." When the porter hears a knocking 
at the gate of the Castle, he calls out, " Who's there, 
in the name of Beelzebub ? Here's a farmer that 
hanged himself in the expectation of plenty. . . . 
Knock, knock ! Who's there ? Faith, here's an 
equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against 

The Jesuits in Europe 127 

either scale ; who committed treason enough for God's 
sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven." On his 
trial Garnett said : " We teach not that equivocation 
may be used promiscuously ; but we think it lawful 
when we are pressed to questions that are harmful to 
ourselves or others to answer ; or urged upon examina- 
tion to answer to one whom we do not hold to be a 
competent judge." Even the Roman Catholic historian 
Dr. Lingard declares that " by seeking shelter under 
equivocation, Garnett deprived himself of the pro- 
tection which the truth might have afforded him ; 
nor could he in such circumstances reasonably com- 
plain if the King refused credit to his assertions of 
innocence and permitted the law to take its course." 
Garnett met his sentence with composure and died 
with the dignity which became him. " I acknowledge 
myself," he said, " not to die a victorious martyr but 
as a penitent thief." He was executed on a scaffold 
in St. Paul's Churchyard and his head set up afterwards 
on London Bridge. As he was being led out of his 
cell he said to one of the cooks : " Farewell, good 
friend Tom, this day I will save thee the labour to 
provide my dinner." 

The heyday of the Jesuits in England was during 
the reign of the last two Stuart princes. In 1669, 
Father Lobb the Provincial, converted James, Duke 
of York, the heir to the throne ; while Charles II at a 
secret conference also declared himself a Catholic. 
By the secret treaty of Dover in 1670, Charles obtained 
the promise of Louis XIV to support him with an 
army and a handsome subsidy, in the event of an 
attempt to win England to the Papal cause. It was, 
however, provided in the treaty that Charles should 
openly announce his conversion and this he shrank 

128 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

from doing. Nevertheless, " in a moment of drunken 
confidence," he revealed his secret conversion to 
Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury, and from 
this moment Shaftesbury became his bitter enemy 
and assisted in the engineering of the infamous Titus 
Oates' plot. Although Oates' was a rogue and his 
evidence untrustworthy, the supposed revelations of 
the plot, coupled with the real danger in which the 
country stood from Papal designs, raised a blaze 
of Protestant fury throughout the length and breadth 
of the land. But when Charles died, in 1685, the hopes 
of the Jesuits were realised, and in James II England 
saw for the last time a Roman Catholic upon the 
throne. The Jesuit father, Edward Petre, was made 
Clerk of the Closet and became the real power behind 
the King, as another Jesuit, Pere La Chaise, was 
behind Louis XIV. Father Parsons' Memorial for 
the Reformation of England was now presented to 
James II and became the programme of that monarch 
in his ultramontane designs upon the liberties of the 
country. Attempts were made to dominate the 
Universities ; six Jesuits were sent to take over 
Trinity College, Dublin, and Roman professors were 
forced on the University of Oxford. In 1687 James 
suspended the oaths of supremacy and allegiance and 
in the interest of Roman Catholics made his Declara- 
tion of liberty of Conscience. The imprisonment of 
the Seven Bishops for refusing to publish the Declara- 
tion from their pulpits was probably suggested by 
Father Petre, but it was a fatal mistake. The laity 
of the country were in no mood to be governed by 
Jesuits who, we are told by an impartial contem- 
porary, were more hated in England than Moham- 
medans. Soon after, the King fled the country and 

The Jesuits in Europe 129 

Father Petre followed suit. This worthy father was 
not a man of great ability and of very poor judgment. 
He forced the King to extremes without a thought 
to their probable consequences and ruined the cause 
of the Society in England for ever. 

He is sarcastically described by Dryden, in his 
" Fable of the Swallows " : 

" With these the Martin readily concurred, 
A Church-begot, and Church believing bird : 
Of little body, but of lofty mind, 
Round bellied, for a dignity designed : 
And much a dunce, as Martins are by kind : 
Yet often quoted Canon laws and Code 
And Fathers which he never understood j 1 
But little learning needs — in noble blood." 

Thus the Jesuits' great opportunity for showing 
their skill at statecraft passed away. The only results 
of their labours were to establish the Protestant suc- 
cession firmly upon the throne and to destroy their 

To pass from England to the affairs of the Society 
in France, is to pass from the circumference of their 
influence to very near its centre. Basking in the 
sunshine of royal approval, under Louis XIV, the 
Society endeavoured to win the world of fashion for 
the Church by its insinuating manners and lax casuistry. 
In opposition to the right of private judgment set 
up by the Huguenots, the Jesuits sought to bring the 
whole of a man's life under the direction of his con- 
fessor. But to do this in a corrupt society, indisposed 
to reform its ways, involved immense concessions. If 
the confessor was to know everything which a man 
did in private, he must compensate his penitent by 
making the terms of salvation as easy as possible, 

130 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

accepting imperfect repentance as an equivalent for 
contrition and amendment, substituting orthodoxy 
and spiritual direction for uprightness in word and 
deed. The Jesuits also saved their clients from the 
responsibility of spiritual thought, they undertook the 
direction of their conscience alike in small things and 
great. Luther is said to have asked a certain charcoal 
burner, who said he believed what the Church believed, 
what the Church did believe ? to which he replied 
that he had not the slightest idea. Nor was it at all 
necessary that he should. God and obedience to the 
Church were synonymous terms with the Jesuit and, 
provided a man came to confession with regularity, 
his confessor undertook to settle his spiritual affairs 
on easy terms with the Supreme Director of Con- 
sciences ! 

Yet, even in the France of Louis XIV, such a 
travesty of religion was not suffered to go unchallenged, 
and in the Jansenists there arose within the fold of 
the Catholic Church an energetic protest in favour 
of personal religion and the severer principles of the 
Gospel. In the opinion of Cornelius Jansen, Bishop 
of Ypres, the founder of this new movement, the 
Church had sacrificed conscience and human feeling 
to mere logic and opportunism. He insisted on the 
need of spiritual conversion and declared that no 
amount of Churchgoing, or regular confession, could 
save the soul. Not that he sympathised with Luther 
or Calvin, for he held that the process of justification 
by faith must be continuous within the fold of the 
Roman Church. A climax was reached when, in 1643, 
the Jansenist Antoine Arnauld published his famous 
pamphlet on Frequent Communion, in which he 
violently attacked the spiritual laxity of the Jesuits, 

The Jesuits in Europe 131 

arousing a storm of orthodox protest which led to the 
formal condemnation of the whole Jansenist move- 
ment by the Pope and the Sorbonne. 

It was under these circumstances that Pascal, the 
friend of Arnauld and Port Royal the stronghold of 
the Jansenists, launched his Provincial Letters, which 
appeared anonymously in 1656-7, and were eagerly 
devoured, especially in the higher circles of society. 
In these letters Pascal first laughs at and then de- 
nounces with scathing though delicate irony the Jesuit 
attitude towards religion ; exposing their cynical 
methods of tampering with evil in the interests of their 
Society and the Church. The letters were written with 
such rapidity that the author was naturally asked 
whether he had read all the voluminous works of 
Jesuit casuistry from which he had quoted, to which 
he replied that " if he had done so, he would have 
spent the greater part of his life in the company of 
very unwholesome books." He claimed, however, to 
have verified his references ; and the substantial 
accuracy of his charges against the Jesuits has never 
been disproved. 

Only two criticisms of unfairness on his part must 
be conceded. Firstly, he selected the wildest moral 
aberrations of Jesuit confessors and treated them as 
examples of their normal methods. Secondly, he 
visited all the spiritual errors of the Roman Church 
on the Jesuits alone, a charge which does not bear the 
test of a candid examination. The scope of this work 
does not admit of many quotations, but the following 
passage illustrates clearly enough the nature and 
method of Pascal's attack. " Do not run away with 
the impression that the Jesuits want to deprave the 
world ; their great fault is that they do not strain 

132 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

every nerve to improve it. That would be bad policy. 
They have so high an opinion of themselves that they 
think that religion could not prosper, unless their 
influence was felt on all sides and everyone's conscience 
was in their keeping. As the severity of the Gospel 
suits a few, they apply it strictly to those few ; as it 
does not suit the many, they leave it out of account 
in dealing with the mass of mankind. Thanks to what 
Father Petau calls this easy and obliging conduct, 
they can hold out a helping hand to all. If a man 
comes to them firmly determined to restore illgotten 
goods, do not think that they will dissuade him ; 
on the contrary, they will encourage so pious a resolve. 
But if another man wants to be absolved without 
making restitution, his case must be hard indeed if 
they cannot find some loophole. Thus they keep all 
their friends and have an answer for their enemies. 
If one throws extreme indulgence in their teeth, they 
at once produce their austere Directors and some 
books which they have written on the severity of the 
law of Christ ; and simple souls, who only look at the 
outside of things, ask for no further proof." 

Pascal attacks in succession all the dubious moral 
stratagems of the Jesuits, probabilism, directing the 
intention, mental reserve and so on. He talks to 
Jesuits, who, out of their tomes of casuistry, find 
justification for lying, theft, gluttony and even murder. 
Take, for example, the question of keeping one's word, 
it is a Jesuit who is speaking : " Listen to the general 
rule laid down by Escobar. ' Promises are not binding 
when the person in making them had no intention to 
bind himself.' Now it seldom happens that any have 
such intention, unless when they confirm their promises 
by an oath or contract ; so that when one simply 

The Jesuits in Europe 133 

says, ' I will do it,' he means he will do it if he does 
not change his mind ; for he does not wish by saying 
that to deprive himself of his liberty. ' My dear 
Father,' I observed, ' I had no idea that the direction 
of the intention possessed the power of rendering 
promises null and void.' " 

Or take the case of probabilism, which is thus 
defined by a Jesuit. " A person may do what he con- 
siders allowable, according to a probable opinion, 
though the contrary may be a safer one. The opinion 
of a single grave doctor is all that is requisite." " Well, 
reverend Father," said I, " you have given us sinners 
ample room at all events ! Thanks to your probable 
opinions, we have liberty of conscience with a witness ! 
Only think of being able to say ' Yes ' or ' No,' just 
as you please ! It is impossible to prize such a privilege 
too highly." Pascal wants, however, to know whether 
a probable opinion, when it is obviously an unsound 
one, will be upheld in the confessional ? " How hasty 
you are," replies the Jesuit, " listen to what follows : 
' To refuse absolution to a penitent who acts according 
to a probable opinion, is a sin which is, in its nature, 
mortal' " 

The climax of the Provincial Letters is reached 
when the Jesuit, after excusing murder on the flimsiest 
pretext, goes on to prove that, since the Gospel, even 
to love God is not necessary in order to obtain 
absolution. Then Pascal throws off all reserve, and 
passes from polite irony to burning indignation. 

" Oh, Father ! " I burst forth, patience herself could 
listen no longer, " was it not enough to allow men 
forbidden pleasures without number under cover of 
your special pleading ? Must you go further and hold 
them out a bribe to commit crimes which even you 

134 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

cannot excuse, by promising them an easy absolution 
without change of life or sign of repentance, beyond 
promises a hundred times broken ? But even here 
your Fathers have not stayed their hand. From 
tampering with the holiest rules of Christian practice 
they have gone on to an entire subversion of the law 
of Christ. They set at naught the Great Command- 
ment, on which hang all the Law and the Prophets. 
They say that it is not necessary to love God, nay 
that release from this irksome duty was the boon 
which Jesus Christ brought into the world. Before 
the Incarnation it was necessary to love Him but 
since He so loved the world that He gave His only- 
begotten Son, the world has been dispensed from 
loving Him in return. Open your eyes, my dear Father, 
and, if the other aberrations of your casuists have 
failed to move you, take warning from these last. 
May God, in His Mercy, teach your Fathers how false 
were the lights that led them on to these rocks. May 
He fill their hearts with that love of Himself from 
which they have ventured to dispense mankind." 

Though the immediate effect of the Provincial 
Letters was considerable, Pascal neither succeeded in 
converting the Jesuits nor in saving the Jansenists 
from bitter persecution ; but he did not write in 
vain. The moral indignation and intellectual force 
of the Letters co-operated with the political errors of 
the Fathers to alienate from the Society the good 
opinions of the world. Between 1606 and 1764 the 
Company of Jesus was expelled from nearly every 
country in Europe, and, as we have already stated, 
was suppressed by the Pope in 1773. The doctrine 
of probabilism was powerfully opposed by Bossuet, 
and when it was again revived by the Redemptorist 

The Jesuits in Europe 135 

Alfonso Liguori, in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
it was in a much modified and more innocuous form. 
According to Liguori, the more indulgent opinion may 
be followed whenever its authorities are " nearly as 
good " as those on the other side. Even this solution, 
aimed as it was at gaining worldly society for the 
Church, was an unsatisfactory moral compromise and 
would have been far from satisfying the upright and 
fearless conscience of Pascal. 

Nevertheless, on the broad issue upon which he 
fought, Pascal triumphed in the long run ; and his 
words of prophecy justified themselves in the subse- 
quent course of ecclesiastical history. " You think 
that force is on your side ; I think that truth and 
justice are on mine. Strange and tedious is the war 
between these two : not that victory hangs in the 
balance. Violence has only a certain course to run, 
marked out by Providential Ordering. Truth will 
endure for ever, sure of its triumph at the last ; for it 
is eternal and almighty like God." 

The services rendered by the Society of Jesus, in its 
earliest days, were services which it is impossible to 
deny and would be ungenerous to minimise. It 
aroused the consciences of thousands of Catholics to a 
sense of moral responsibility and to a reawakened 
devotion to their Divine Redeemer. 

It enlarged the mental horizon of Southern Christen- 
dom and gave a stimulus to missionary work in foreign 
lands which restored an heroic tone to the Church and 
left an example of unselfish service powerful in its 
effects to the present day. In Europe, the honours of 
the Catholic Reaction, such as they are, belong to 
them ; and without their energy, enthusiasm and self- 
sacrifice, the tide of religious innovation would have 

136 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

swept far farther afield and have left intact much less 
of the mediaeval system of the Church. On the other 
hand, the Jesuits were, as they still are, the party of 
remorseless reaction. They opposed liberty of thought 
with every faculty at their disposal ; and fond as they 
were of moral compromise, they were adamantine in 
their maintenance of Papal authority and eagerly 
anxious to strengthen and increase it. In the severe 
but balanced judgment of Dean Church, they were 
" an engine for maintaining at any cost the spiritual 
supremacy of an unreformed theocracy, with all its 
insolence, all its accumulated abuses and all its false- 

Living in a time of fierce controversy, they revelled 
in religious and political disputation and thoroughly 
enjoyed the heat and conflict of the fray. " The 
Jesuits felt," says a modern writer, " that they were 
the new men, the men of the time ; so with a perfect 
confidence in themselves, they went out to set the 
Church to rights." 

Yet with all their self-confidence they failed ; for, 
unlike the Franciscans, their spirit was not the spirit 
of the coming ages. 

Again, unlike the older orders of the Church, they 
produced few minds of a really high or independent 
character. The Jesuits can boast " no Aquinas, no 
Anselm, no Roger Bacon." Loyola and Xavier were 
founders, but after their time no genius appeared in the 
ranks of their Society. Able organisers like Lainez 
and Aquaviva, respectable commentators like 
Cornelius a Lapide, industrious scholars like the 
Bollandists were fairly numerous, but these were men 
of talent only and of little originality. An exception 
might perhaps be made in the case of Denys Petau, 

The Jesuits in Europe 137 

the French Jesuit of the seventeenth century, whose 
unfinished treatise De theologicis dogmatibus was the 
first systematic attempt to trace the evolution of 
Christian doctrine from the historical point of view ; 
and a work which, in later days, suggested to Cardinal 
Newman his Development of Christian Doctrine. 

The Jesuit process of " scooping out the will " robbed 
the Society of robust and independent minds, and when 
such appeared, they soon left its narrow ranks to 
become in some cases its severest critics. 

The whole Jesuit system of education tended to a 
stereotyped mediocrity. The Ratio Studiorum devised 
by Aquaviva, and still obligatory on the Society, is 
incompatible with all breadth and progress in educa- 
tion. Novel opinions may not even be discussed and 
nothing may be taught which in any way contradicts 
the prevalent opinion of Jesuit Fathers. The Vulgate 
is always to be defended as the orthodox version of the 
Bible, and in philosophy, the authority of Aristotle, 
even when stultified by the actual experiments of a 
Galileo, is never to be departed from. The results of 
such a training, pursued for three centuries, has been 
to make of the loyal Jesuit a master of cultivated 
commonplace, wholly out of touch with the ever- 
changing aspects of modern thought and therefore 
without influence on the more scientific and alert minds 
of the modern world. Nor are Jesuit laymen allowed 
more scope or liberty than their clerical confreres. 

Enough has perhaps already been said of the Jesuits' 
disloyalty to the State, which they regarded as " some- 
thing accidental and its form variable," while " the 
Church, as the supreme power, alone was eternal." 
They were " the stormy petrels of politics " and their 
hands were seen to the greatest disadvantage in such 

138 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

developments as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes 
and the Thirty Years' War. 

Finally, it may be said, that the Jesuits, true to their 
maxim, that the end justifies the means, sacrificed 
truth to expediency ; and any society, whether 
political or religious, which does this, is bound sooner 
or later to come to grief. 

For the future of the world belongs to those nations 
which, accepting disingenuously the faith of Christ 
and His Church, accept also the responsibilities of the 
individual conscience, enlightened according to promise 
by the spirit of Truth. 

For the voice of Divine inspiration is never silent ; 
it speaks afresh to every generation, bringing forth out 
of the variegated wisdom of God " things new and old." 

" The old order changeth, yielding place to new, 
And God fulfils Himself in many ways, 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." 


The revived interest in Franciscan study owes its original 
impulse to the Vie de S. Frangois d 'Assise, by Paul Sabatier, 
published in November, 1893 (English translation, Hodder 
and Stoughton), and those who wish to form a close 
acquaintance with the early Franciscan writers cannot do 
better than read the critical study of the early authorities 
which precedes this biography. All the early lives of the 
Saint are now accessible in English. The two lives by 
Thomas of Celano have been published by Methuen. In 
Dent's Temple Classics we have The Mirror of Perfection, 
The Legend of the Three Companions, The Sacrum Com- 
mercium, and The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Of the 
latter, Sabatier says : " Avec les Fioretti nous entrons 
defmitivement dans le domaine de la legende. Ce bijou 
litteraire raconte la vie de Francois, de ses compagnons et 
de ses disciples telle qu'elle apparaissait au commencement 
du quatorzieme siecle, a l'imagination populaire. Nous 
n'avons pas a nous arreter a la valeur litteraire de ce 
document, une des productions les plus exquises du 
moyen age religieux, mais on peut bien dire qu'au point 
de vue historique, il ne merite pas l'injuste oubli oii on 
l'a laisse. . . . Ce qui donne a ces recits un prix inestimable, 
c'est ce qu'on pourrait appeler, faute de mieux, leur 
atmosphere. . . . Mieux qu'aucune autre biographie, les 
Fioretti nous transportent la-bas en Ombrie, et au 
milieu des montagnes de la Marche d'Ancone, pour nous 
en faire voir les ermitages et nous meler a. la vie moitie 
puerile et moitie angelique, qui etait celle de leurs 
habitants." The most recent biographies of value are 
Johannes Jorgensen's Saint Francis of Assist, 1906, 


140 The Early Franciscans and Jesuits 

translated from the Danish by Dr. Sloane (Longman's), 
and Father Cuthbert's Life. Estimates of value are 
to be found in Renan's Essays in Religious History, 
Westcott's Social Aspects of Christianity, Creighton's 
Essays, and Mr. H. W. Sedgewick's Italy in the Thirteenth 
Century. A book of value and original research is Anne 
Macdonell's Sons of Francis (Dent), which also contains 
an excellent bibliography of early Franciscan literature. 
Fra Salimbene's Chronicle is condensed in Mr. G. G. 
Coulton's From St. Francis to Dante. The story of the 
Franciscans in England is told at length with the original 
documents in the Monumenta Franciscana Brewer and 
Howlett in the Rolls series. Eccleston's De adventu 
fratrum Minor um in Angliam has been translated, with a 
preface by Father Cuthbert, O.S.F.C. (Sands). Much 
light is thrown on the scholastic side of the English Fran- 
ciscans by Mr. A. G. Little in his Grey Friars in Oxford 
(Oxford Historical Society), and by Mr. Stevenson's 
Life of Grosseteste. Mr. Taylor has a study of Roger Bacon 
in the second volume of The Medieval Mind (Macmillan). 
The story of the early Jesuits begins with The Testament 
of Ignatius Loyola, to which Father Tyrrell has written a 
preface (Sands), and with the Spiritual Exercises (Burns 
and Oates). Mr. Stewart Rose's elaborate work, Loyola 
and the Early Jesuits, is full of interesting information, but 
uncritical in its estimate of Loyola, and too hagiographical 
in tendency. The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier, 
by H. J. Coleridge S.J., and Parkman's Jesuits in North 
A merica, are indispensable for a knowledge of the missionary 
activities of the Society ; as is Ethelred Taunton's History 
of the Jesuits in England (Methuen) for the story of Parsons 
and Garnett. Other easily accessible works on different 
aspects of Jesuit life are Figgis' From Gerson to Grotius, 
Ranke's History of the Popes, J. A. Symonds' Catholic 
Reaction, the Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal, Pascal, 
by Viscount St. Cyres, and Sir James Stephens' Essays in 
Ecclesiastical Biography. An admirable critique of Loyola 

Bibliography 141 

will be found in the first volume of Dean Church's 
Occasional Papers. In support of the statements on pages 
136-7 with regard to the Ratio Studiorum and its influence 
on Jesuit mentality, see article on the Jesuits by the late 
R. F. Littledale, and Rev. Ethelred Taunton, S.J., in the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, nth Edition, Vol. 15, to which 
I am much indebted; as also to the article on Ultra- 
montanism by Carl Mirbt in Vol. 27. 

The opinions expressed in this volume have been reached 
after an extensive course of reading, and considerable 
reflection extending over several years. Readers who 
desire to pursue further the fascinating story of Jesuit 
enterprise, and to acquaint themselves with the Jesuit 
defence against their opponents, can do so by consulting 
the following voluminous works : Institutum Societatis 
Jesu, 7 vols., Avignon, 1830-8 ; Backer, Bibliotheque des 
ecrivains de la Compagnie de Jesus, 7 vols., Paris, 1853-61 ; 
Cretineau Joly, Histoire de la Compagnie de Jesus, 6 vols., 
Paris, 1844 ; R. G. Thwaites, Jesuit Relations and Allied 
Documents, 73 vols., Cleveland, 1896-1901. 


Agnellus of Pisa, 50 
Albert of Pisa, 52-3 
Aquaviva, Claude, 90, 120-1, 

Assisi, Basilica of, 24-5, 28 

Bacon, Roger, 35, 56, 59-62 
Bernardino of Siena, 65-6 
Bonaventura, St., 31, 34-6 
Boniface VIII, 40, 117 

Campion, Edward, 122, 124 
Canticle of the Creatures, 18, 36 
Clara, Santa, 13-14, 18, 31 
Company of Jesus, 67-9, 75, 78- 
9, 82-6, 135-8 

De Brebeuf, Jean, 108-10 
De Montfort, Simon, 47, 57 

Elias of Cortona, 16, 23-9, 120 

Franciscan Gospel, 20-22 
Franciscan Missions to Moham- 
medans, 14-15, 66 

Garnett, Henry, 124-7 

Giles, Brother, 30-32 

Gregory IX, Cardinal Ugolino, 

14, 16, 26-7 
Grosseteste, Robert, 47, 54-7, 59 

Innocent III, 11-12, 117 
Inquisition, Spanish, 75 

Jacopone da Todi, 36-41, 45 
Jesuit Casuistry, 88-90, 129-35 
Jesuit Education, 87, 137 
Jesuit Missions, 88, 93-116 
Jesuit Politics, 83, 90-2, 104-5, 
120-9, 134. 1 37- 8 

Joachim of Flora, 34 
Jogues, Isaac, 1 10-13 
John of Parma, 32-5 

Lainez, Diego, 120 

Le Jeune, Paul, 106-8 

Leo, Brother, 17, 25-6, 29-30, 44 

Louis IX, 43-4 

Manresa, 72-4 
Marsh, Adam, 56-9 
Montserrat, 72 

Oxford Friars, 50, 54-6 

Parenti, Giovanni, 26-7 
Pascal, Blaise, 89, 131-5 
Parsons, Robert, 90, 12 1-4, 128 
Paul III, 119 
Petre, Edward, 128-9 
Probabilism, 89, 132-3, 134-5 

Ricci, Matteo, 11 4-1 5 

Salimbene of Parma, 17, 33, 41-5 
Sarpi, Paolo, 87, 120-1 
Spiritual Exercises, 72, 75, 77-8, 

Third Order of St. Francis, 63-4 
Thomas of Celano, 8, 19-20, 26, 

29. 36-7 
Thomas of Eccleston, 49-50 
Trent, Council of, 1 19-120 

William of Occam, 63 
Wyclif, John, 56, 62-3 

Xavier, Francis, 68-9, 78-9, 93- 

Xavier, Jerome, 105 

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